Thursday, April 25, 2024

SC directs SBI to make full disclosure of electoral bonds details by March 21


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New Delhi, March 18: In a third tongue-lashing to the State Bank of India, the Supreme Court on Monday told it to stop being “selective” and make “complete disclosure” of all details related to the electoral bonds scheme by March 21.
The apex court said the details to be disclosed include the unique bond numbers that would reveal the link between the buyers and the recipient political parties.
A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud said there is “no manner of doubt that the SBI is required to make complete disclosure of all the details” which are in its possession.
The bench, also comprising Justice Sanjiv Khanna, Justice B R Gavai, Justice J B Pardiwala and Justice Manoj Misra, said the Election Commission shall forthwith upload on its website the details received from the SBI. In a landmark verdict, a five-judge constitution bench had done away with the scheme, calling it “unconstitutional”, and ordered disclosure by the Election Commission of donors, the amount donated by them and the recipients by March 13.
On March 11, the SBI, which unsuccessfully sought an extension of time till June 30 to disclose electoral bonds details, faced searching questions from the top court which wanted to know about the steps taken to comply with its directions.
Last Friday, the SC admonished SBI for furnishing incomplete information and issued a notice to the bank to explain the reasons for the non-disclosure of unique alphanumeric numbers.
On Monday, the bench noted the submission of senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for the SBI, that there is no reservation on the part of the bank in disclosing all the details of electoral bonds which are in its possession. “In order to fully effectuate the order and to obviate any controversy in the future, the chairman and managing director of SBI shall file an affidavit on or before 5 pm on Thursday (March 21) indicating that SBI has disclosed all details of the electoral bonds which were in its possession and custody and that no details have been withheld,” the bench said.
During the hearing, the bench asked the SBI to disclose all conceivable information on electoral bonds, including bond numbers. “We had asked all details to be disclosed by the SBI which includes electoral bond numbers as well. Let SBI not be selective in disclosure,” the bench mentioned orally.
It said the apex court had, in its verdict in the electoral bonds case, asked the bank to disclose all the details of the bonds and it should not wait for further orders on this aspect. The bench refused a hearing on unlisted pleas of industry bodies, Associated Chambers of Commerce & Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in the case. The industry bodies, through senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, wanted an urgent hearing on their interim application against the disclosure of bond details.
Salve told the bench it should not seem that the bank is “playing with” the court as they have no difficulty in disclosing the details of electoral bonds.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the petitioner NGO in the case, claimed that major political parties have not given the donor details and only some parties have given it.
Our shoulders broad enough: SC on social media commentary
As an institution, our shoulders are “broad enough”, the Supreme Court said on Monday as the Centre flagged social media posts against the court intended to embarrass it after its orders in Electoral Bonds cases.
Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud, who was heading a five-judge Constitution bench hearing the electoral bonds case, said once the court delivers a judgement, it becomes nation’s property, open for debate.
It said the apex court was only concerned about enforcing the directions given in its February 15 judgement.
During the hearing on Monday, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that after the March 11 order (on SBI’s plea time till June 30 to furnish details of electoral bonds to the EC), those before the court started giving press interviews “deliberately embarrassing the court” and as nobody can rebut that from this side.
“Based upon the twisted and other statistics, any kind of posts are being made. I know your lordships cannot control that,” Mehta said, appearing for the Centre.
The CJI, however, said the court is only concerned about enforcing its directions issued in the verdict. (PTI)


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