Election Commission Asked By Supreme Court To Publish Electoral Bonds Data By March 15

Poll Body Asked By Supreme Court To Publish Electoral Bonds Data By Friday

The poll body has been asked by the court to make this data public on its website by Friday.

New Delhi:

The Election Commission is likely to make the electoral bonds data public on its website soon after the expected disclosure by the State Bank of India. The Supreme Court yesterday ordered the State Bank of India to submit the details of electoral bonds to the Election Commission by close of business hours today. The poll body was in turn asked by the court to make this data public on its website by Friday (March 15).

A five-judge constitution bench asked tough questions to the SBI, which unsuccessfully sought extension of time till June 30 to disclose the details of electoral bonds. The court asked senior advocate Harish Salve, who was representing the bank, about the steps taken by the SBI to comply with its landmark February 15 order that scrapped the scheme of anonymous political funding.

“Mr Salve, our judgement is dated February 15, 2024. We are now on the 11th of March. In the last 26 days, what extent of matching has been done by you? What steps have you taken in the last 26 days? The application is absolutely silent on that,” Chief Justice DY Chandrachud said.

The top court had earlier directed the SBI, the authorised financial institution under the scheme, to submit the details of the electoral bonds purchased since April 12, 2019 till date to the Election Commission by March 6.

The SBI, however, filed an application before the court two days before the expiry of the deadline seeking an extension of time until June 30 for complying with the directions. In its application, the SBI had contended that the retrieval of information from “each silo” and the procedure of matching the information of one silo to that of the other would be a time-consuming exercise.

Mr Salve said if the matching exercise was to be done away with, the SBI could complete the exercise within three weeks.

“We had not told you to do the matching exercise. We have asked you for a plain disclosure,” the Chief Justice said.

“Even your FAQs (frequently asked question), which were shown to us during the hearing, indicate that for every purchase, you have to have a separate KYC (know your customer),” the bench said, noting, “Therefore, it is very clear that every time somebody made a purchase, a KYC was mandated”.

The Supreme Court also put the SBI on notice that it may be inclined to proceed against it for “wilful disobedience” of its February 15 verdict if the bank failed to comply with its directions and timelines.

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