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Electoral bonds: SC rejects SBI’s plea for time extension, directs it to furnish details by tomorrow

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A five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court on Monday dismissed the State Bank of India’s plea seeking extension of time and directed it to furnish the details of electoral bonds to the Election Commission by close of business hours on March 12.

A bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud also directed the EC to publish the details shared by the bank on its official website by 5 pm on March 15.

During the hearing, the bench, also comprising Justices Sanjiv Khanna, B R Gavai, J B Pardiwala, and Manoj Misra, took note of the submissions of senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for the SBI, that more time was needed for collating the details and matching them as the information were kept in two different silos with its branches.

He further said if the matching exercise is to be done away with, the SBI can complete the exercise within three weeks.

The bench said it had not directed the SBI to match the details of donors and donee with other information.

The SBI has to just open the sealed cover, collate the details and give the information to the Election Commission, the apex court said.

It also asked the bank about the steps taken by it for complying with the directions given by the apex court in its February 15 judgment.

”In the last 26 days, what steps have you taken? Your application is silent on that,” the bench said.

It asked the SBI to do a ”plain disclosure” as per the court’s judgment.

In a landmark verdict delivered on February 15, a five-judge Constitution bench scrapped the Centre’s electoral bonds scheme that allowed anonymous political funding, calling it ”unconstitutional” and ordered disclosure by the Election Commission of donors, the amount donated by them and the recipients by March 13.

The SBI had sought an extension till June 30 to disclose the details of each electoral bond encashed by political parties before the scheme was scrapped.

A separate plea, seeking initiation of contempt action against the SBI, was also heard by the bench.

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