SC asks SBI why it did not disclose Electoral Bonds’ numbers, issues notice to bank

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday took exception to State Bank of India (SBI) for not furnishing Electoral Bonds data with unique alphanumeric numbers, which help identify the bond, and issued notice to it while seeking the bank’s response on Monday.

A five-judge Constitution bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justices Sanjiv Khanna, BR Gavai, JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra said that the SBI has not fully complied with its March 11 order in which it had ordered the bank to disclose all details concerning Electoral Bonds.

The apex court in its order stated, “The judgment of the Constitution Bench clarified that all details of Electoral Bonds will be made available including date of purchase, name of purchaser, the denomination. It’s been submitted that SBI has not disclosed the Electoral bond numbers (alpha numeric numbers).”

“Notice be issued to SBI. We direct Registry to issue notice to SBI returnable on Monday,” ordered the bench.
It also allowed the request of Election Commission of India seeking the return of Electoral Bonds’ documents handed over to the top court in sealed cover on two occasions.

The poll panel told the bench that it did not retain any copies of these documents to uphold confidentiality and sought the return of the sealed envelopes to proceed with the court’s direction to upload data on its website.
The apex court said its Registrar Judicial shall ensure that documents are scanned and digitised and once the exercise is complete the original documents shall be given back to ECI and it will then upload them on the website on or before March 17.

At the outset of the hearing, apex court said, “Who is appearing for the State Bank of India? They have not disclosed the bond numbers. It has to be disclosed by the State Bank of India.”

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta urged the court to issue notice to the bank since they may have something to say.
The Supreme Court by its February verdict had struck down the Electoral Bonds Scheme which allowed for anonymous funding to political parties, and ordered the SBI to stop issuing Electoral Bonds immediately.
It had unanimously quashed the Electoral Bonds scheme as well as amendments made to the Income Tax Act and the Representation of People Act which had made the donations anonymous.

It had asked SBI to furnish details and the details about each Electoral Bonds encashed by the political parties, which shall include the date of encashment and the denomination of electoral bond.

An Electoral Bond is an instrument in the nature of a promissory note or bearer bond which can be purchased by any individual, company, firm or association of persons provided the person or body is a citizen of India or incorporated or established in India. The bonds are issued specifically for the purpose of contribution of funds to political parties.
Various petitions were filed before the top court challenging amendments made to different statutes through Finance Act 2017 and Finance Act 2016 on the ground that they have opened doors to unlimited, unchecked funding of political parties.

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