SBI Rushes to Meet SC Deadline for Electoral Bonds Data

SBI

The State Bank of India (SBI), the nation’s largest lender, finds itself in a race against the clock as it strives to compile and submit data related to electoral bonds, following a directive from the Supreme Court. The deadline, set for March 12, is looming, prompting swift action from the bank’s management to ensure compliance.

Deadline Pressure Mounts

The bank’s transaction banking marketing department, based in Mumbai, has been tasked with overseeing this critical endeavor. With the impending deadline, the department is working tirelessly to fulfill the court’s requirements.

Management’s Urgent Instructions

In response to the Supreme Court’s directive, SBI’s management has instructed the concerned department to expedite the process. Recognizing the significance of complying with the court’s orders, the bank is leaving no stone unturned to meet the looming deadline.

Background on Electoral Bonds

Electoral bonds were introduced as a means of facilitating financial contributions to political parties, initially proposed in the Union Budget 2017–18. While intended to promote cashless donations, concerns have arisen regarding the transparency of political funding associated with these instruments.

Court’s Firm Stance

On March 11, the Supreme Court dismissed SBI’s plea for an extension, underscoring the importance of timely disclosure. The court emphasized the need for transparent reporting, directing SBI to divulge details of electoral bonds by the end of business hours on March 12.

Judicial Mandate

Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, leading a five-judge bench, reiterated the court’s stance on transparent disclosure. The Election Commission has been tasked with publishing the information provided by SBI by March 15. Additionally, the bank’s chairman and managing director have been instructed to file an affidavit following the submission of details, with non-compliance risking contempt action.

Court’s Displeasure

During proceedings, the Supreme Court expressed dissatisfaction with SBI’s handling of the matter since the court’s initial order on February 11. Criticism was directed at an Assistant General Manager (AGM) for seeking to amend a constitutional bench order.

SBI’s Challenges

SBI cited practical challenges in decoding electoral bonds and matching donor information due to decentralized data storage and stringent anonymity measures. Retrieving and correlating data from separate repositories poses a significant logistical hurdle for the bank.

Legal Action

The Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI (M)) have filed contempt petitions against SBI for alleged non-compliance with court orders. The bank faces mounting pressure to adhere to judicial directives.

Legal Backdrop

In a significant ruling in February 2024, the Supreme Court invalidated the electoral bond scheme, citing violations of constitutional rights. This decision underscores the judiciary’s commitment to upholding transparency and accountability in political funding.

As SBI races against time to fulfill its obligations, the outcome of this endeavor holds implications for political finance regulations and accountability mechanisms.

Reference: moneycontrol

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