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Disclose all details in possession, including the Electoral Bonds’ unique alphanumeric numbers: SC to SBI

Disclose all details in possession, including the Electoral Bonds’ unique alphanumeric numbers: SC to SBI

New Delhi : The Supreme Court on Monday directed the State Bank of India (SBI) to disclose all details to the Election Commission of India which are in its possession, including the Electoral Bonds’ unique alphanumeric numbers corresponding to each bond.
A five-judge Constitution bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justices Sanjiv Khanna, BR Gavai, JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra asked SBI’s Chairman to file a compliance affidavit 5 pm of March 21.

The Chairman has to file affidavit indicating that SBI has disclosed all details of Electoral Bonds which were in its possession and custody and no details have been withheld, the court said.
It further asked the Election Commission of India to upload the details on its website forthwith upon receipt of information from the SBI.
There is no manner of doubt that SBI was required to disclose all details available with it. This, we clarify, will include the alphanumeric number and serial number, if any, of the bonds purchased,” the bench ordered.
It added, “In order to avoid any controversy in the future, the Chairperson of the bank should file an affidavit by 5 pm on Thursday that it has disclosed all details in its custody and that no details have been withheld.”

The bench said that its February 15 judgment mandated the SBI to disclose all details including the date of purchase/redemption, name of purchaser/recipient, and the denomination of Electoral Bonds.
The use of the word including means that the details specified in the judgment are illustrative and not exhaustive, the apex court said.
The bench, during the hearing, observed that SBI should not be selective on disclosing the details.
Last week, the apex court took exception to SBI for not furnishings Electoral Bonds data with unique alphanumeric numbers, which help identify the bond, and issued notice to it.
It had 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.

During today’s hearing, the top court also expressed displeasure on SCBA President Adhish Aggarwala writing letter to CJI DY Chandrachud for suo motu review of Electoral Bonds judgement, and CJI said these are all publicity related issue and we will not get into this.
CJI told Aggarwala, “Apart from being a senior counsel, you are president of SCBA. You have written a letter invoking my suo Motu powers. These are all publicity related… and we will not get into this. Do not make me say anything more. It will be distasteful.”

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Centre, told the apex court that ultimate aim was to curb black money and top court must be aware of how this judgment is being played outside the court.
“Now the witch hunting has started on another level and not at the level of the Central government. Those before the court started giving press interviews and deliberately embarrassing the court. A series of social media posts, at least intended to cause embarrassment, started,” Solicitor General said and asked it to consider issuing some direction in this regard.
To this, CJI DY Chandrachud said that as judges we are only on the rule of law and work as per the Constitution.
“Our court is only to work for the governance of rule of law in this polity. As judges we are also discussed in social media but our shoulders are broad enough to take this. We are only on enforcing our directions of the judgment,” said the CJI.
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 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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