Supreme Court Dismisses SBI’s Request for Electoral Bond Details

Business View
4 Min Read
Supreme Court Dismisses SBI's Request for Electoral Bond Details

The plea of the State Bank of India (SBI) has been rejected by the Supreme Court bench consisting of 5-judges. Earlier, The SBI submitted an application to the higher court of India in which they requested to grant time until 30 June to submit details of electoral bonds (EBs). After hearing the appeal of SBI, the bench of the Supreme Court dismissed the application. It is worth noting that the top court of India ordered SBI to unveil the details of EBs purchased since 12 April 2019 to the Election Commission of India (ECI) by Tuesday and against this order, SBI has requested to grant more time to share details of companies and individuals who purchased the controversial electoral bonds. 

On Monday, 11th March 2024, the Supreme Court said the details it sought are readily available with the bank and it is the time to share it with the ECI “by close of business on Tuesday, 12th March 2024. After receiving the details, ECI will make public the information by posting the details on its website by 05:00 PM on Friday, 15th March 2024 as ordered by the Court. Earlier, in February, the Supreme Court delivered a landmark judgment in which it scrapped the process of electoral bonds by calling it “unconstitutional.” It is worth noting that the EB scheme was launched by the Central government of India in 2017.

What Was an Electoral Bond?

Electoral Bond was a financial scheme of funding to the political parties in India. When the Union Budget 2017–18 was introduced, The Finance Bill, 2017 included the Anonymous Electoral Bond funding scheme. The government-run bank was the authorized financial institution under the scheme. This scheme permitted firms and people to make anonymous and unlimited donations to political parties through certificates purchased from the SBI. The Supreme Court declared it unlawful on February 15, 2024. The top court of India further added that ” EBs infringe upon the right of information of the voter”- a setback for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has been the largest beneficiary of the bonds.

After scrapping the election funding system launched by Modi’s government, India’s top court asked the bank to submit the details of companies and individuals who purchased the EBs. After calling the EB “unconstitutional” the top court asked the bank to submit the details by 6th March 2024 to ECI, so that the details will be published days before the general elections in 2024. 

However, the SBI has appealed for an extension on submitting the details of the bond until 30th June (by which time the Lok Sabha election 2024 would have been completed). The Supreme Court rejected the plea and asked the bank how much work had been done till now to comply with its 15th February judgment. The court said, “We place SBI on notice that we might be inclined to proceed on willful disobedience of court order if it does not comply with the timeline given today.”

D Y Chandrachud, Chief Justice of India (CJI) said, “Today is 11th March. In the last 26 days, what is the extent of matching done by you? The affidavit is silent on this. We expect a degree of candor from SBI.”

Share This Article