SBI Requests Extension for Electoral Bond Details Submission, Cites 'Practical Difficulties'

Mainstream
06-Mar-2024
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The State Bank of India (SBI) has approached the Supreme Court seeking an extension until June 30 to comply with the recent judgment instructing the bank to disclose details of electoral bonds encashed from April 2019 onwards. The bank, represented by Advocate Sanjay Kapur, cites "certain practical difficulties" in fulfilling the court's directive within the initial deadline of March 6.

In the application filed just before the mandated deadline, SBI emphasizes the complexity of decoding electoral bonds while ensuring donor anonymity. The bank points out that details of purchases are not centrally maintained, making it a challenging process. The five-judge Constitution Bench, led by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, had unanimously quashed the Electoral Bonds Scheme last month.

SBI's request underscores the intricacies involved in matching donor information, requiring significant effort. The court's directive includes submitting details of political parties receiving contributions through electoral bonds and disclosing each bond's encashment details by March 6, 2024, to the Election Commission of India (ECI). SBI's plea raises concerns about rematching data involving the date of bond issue, purchase, and redemption by political parties.

The Electoral Bonds Scheme, allowing anonymous donations to political parties, faced scrutiny through various petitions challenging amendments introduced by the Finance Act, of 2017. The recent judgment rejected the government's transparency claims, asserting that electoral bonds were not the least intrusive measure to curb black money. The court's ruling mandates a halt in electoral bond issuance, disclosure of political party contributions, and the return of valid but uncashed bonds.

SBI's request for an extension highlights the intricacies of implementing the court's directive and underscores the challenges in ensuring transparency while maintaining donor anonymity in political funding. The Supreme Court's decision on the extension request will further shape the trajectory of electoral funding reforms in India.

Author: Anushka Taraniya

News Writer, MIT ADT University