Electoral Bonds case: Supreme Court dismisses SBI's plea for extension, directs ECI to make data public by March 15

Dismissing the application of the SBI, which sought an extension of time to submit details of electoral bonds, the Supreme Court of India directed the ECI to submit the data by March 15.

Supreme Court

NEW DELHI: Dismissing the application of the State Bank of India (SBI), which sought an extension of time to submit details of electoral bonds, the Supreme Court of India directed the Election Commission of India (ECI) to submit the data by March 15, by collecting the same from the SBI.

Earlier, the SBI had appealed to the court seeking time to comply with the court's directions to furnish the details of electoral bonds.

Also Read: Supreme Court strikes down electoral bonds as illegal, says infringement on RTI, leads to quid pro quo

The Supreme Court Bench consisting of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, justices BR Gavai, Sanjeev Khanna and JB Pardiwala asked the SBI to disclose the details of bonds purchased and redeemed by political parties by Tuesday.

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While senior advocate Kapil Sibal, advocates Prashant Bhushan and Shadan Farasat argued for petitioners, Solicitor-General of India Tushar Mehta and senior advocate Harish Salve appeared virtually for the respondents (SBI).

Harish Salve urged the bench to grant some time for the SBI to comply with theapex court's order. He referred to the application filed by the SBI and the operative part of the judgment and explained the complexity involved in providing the information asked for the Supre Court. Salve said that the SBI had, however, stopped issuing new electoral bonds.

The Chief Justice said: “If you see your application, what you say is...it is submitted that donor details were kept in a sealed cover in a designated branch and all sealed covers were deposited at the main branch in Mumbai. On the other hand, political parties could redeem at 29 authorised banks. It is submitted (in application) that matching information from one silo to another is a time-consuming process.”

Also Read: Electoral bonds are a major source of funding for political parties: Take a look at which party got how much

At this juncture, Salve intervened and said that the information was divided at the time of the purchase of the bonds. However, the CJI pointed out that ultimately all details were sent to the Mumbai main branch.

“We knew that it was sensitive information. A physical procedure was devised. Only the bond number was cleared and the bond number was used for further purchases. And it was done to prevent the gossip that so and so have purchased,” Salve replied.

Digging further, the CJI said that even "your (SBI) FAQs indicated that for every purchase, the Bank has to have a separate KYC." So, every time a purchase was made, KYC was mandated. For this, Salve said that SBI had the details. “I am not saying we don't have,” Salve pleaded.

Justice Khanna said that the purchaser's details were kept in a sealed cover, all that the Bank had to do was to open the sealed cover and submit details to the Court. “The ECI was asked to give a sealed cover with details during the hearing, which we have not opened." Justice Gavai told Salve that the Court did not ask the Bank to correlate it with the purchaser and the political party.

Reading out the order, the CJI said that the Court gave its judgment on February 15 and wanted to know what the SBI did in the past 26 days. “What steps you have taken? Nothing is stated. It should have been disclosed, that this is the work which was done, and we need time to do more. We expect some candour from the State Bank of India,” Justice Chandrachud observed.


In view of the above discussion, SBI's miscellaneous application seeking an extension of time until June 30 is dismissed. The State Bank is directed to disclose the details by the close of business hours of March 12, 2024. As regards the Election Commission of India, we direct them to compile the information and publish the information on their website no later than by 5 PM on March 15, 2024."

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