SBI Seeks Deadline Extension To Submit For Electoral Bond Details

The State Bank of India has sought an extension of the deadline till June 30 to submit details related to electoral bonds, which will be after the Lok Sabha elections likely to take place in April-May.
SBI Seeks Deadline Extension To Submit For Electoral Bond Details
SBI Seeks Deadline Extension To Submit For Electoral Bond Details

The State Bank of India (SBI) has requested an extension from the Supreme Court to submit information about Electoral Bonds to the Election Commission of India by June 30.

SBI stated in its application that it requires additional time to reveal information about electoral bonds cashed by political parties.

Bank officials stated that there are specific challenges in carrying out the decoding task within the designated timeframe.

The Supreme Court's Constitution bench has directed the SBI to provide information about the political parties that have received Electoral Bonds since April 12, 2019. The bench has asked for all the relevant details to be submitted to the Election Commission of India by March 6.

In the application requesting a time extension, the SBI stated that because of the strict measures taken to maintain the anonymity of the donors, the process of decoding the Electoral Bonds and matching the donors to their donations would be complicated.

The process of gathering data from each separate source and comparing the information between them would require a significant amount of time, according to the statement.

"It is submitted that details of purchases made at the Branches are not maintained centrally at any one place, such as the name of purchaser/donor which could be tallied with Date of Issue, Place of Issue (Branch), Denomination of Bond, Bond Number. The data related to the issuance of the bond and the data related to the redemption of the bond were kept recorded in two different silos. No central database was maintained. This was done so as to ensure that donors' anonymity would be protected," it added.

The bank informed the highest court that information about the donors was securely stored at certain branches. Subsequently, this information was transferred to the main branch of the bank, which is situated in Mumbai.

The bank stated that the three-week timeline set by the court in its February 15th judgement would not provide enough time to complete the entire exercise. Therefore, the court has granted an extension to the State Bank of India (SBI) to comply with the judgement.

The Electoral Bonds Scheme, which permitted undisclosed funding to political parties, was invalidated by the Supreme Court. Additionally, the court directed the State Bank of India to cease the issuance of Electoral Bonds without delay.

A panel of five judges, including Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justices Sanjiv Khanna, BR Gavai, JB Pardiwala, and Manoj Misra, unanimously invalidated the Electoral Bonds scheme, along with the changes made to the Income Tax Act and the Representation of People Act, which allowed for anonymous donations.

The State Bank of India was requested to provide information regarding the electoral bonds that political parties had cashed, including the specific details such as the date and denomination of each bond.

The highest court had stated that the Election Commission of India (ECI) must release the information regarding Electoral Bonds on its official website before March 13.

An Electoral Bond is a financial document that functions like a promissory note or bearer bond. It can be bought by any individual, company, firm, or association of people, as long as they are citizens of India or are incorporated or established within the country. These bonds are specifically issued to facilitate the contribution of funds to political parties.

Several petitions were submitted to the highest court contesting amendments made to various statutes via the Finance Act 2017 and Finance Act 2016. The main argument was that these amendments have created opportunities for political parties to receive limitless and unregulated funding.

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