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SBI’s Request for Extension on Electoral Bond Disclosure

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The Supreme Court on February 15 annulled the electoral bonds scheme for political funding. | Source : The Hindu

State Bank of India (SBI) has approached the Supreme Court, seeking an extension until June 30 to disclose the particulars of each electoral bond redeemed by political entities. This move comes in response to the Supreme Court’s recent directive, instructing the SBI to furnish these details to the Election Commission by March 6.

Request for Extension

SBI, in its plea to the apex court, has cited the complexity involved in retrieving information from distinct data repositories, referred to as “silos.” The process of correlating data across these silos, according to the bank, requires significant time and effort. This complexity arises from the stringent measures implemented to safeguard the anonymity of donors, making the task of decoding electoral bonds and linking donors to their contributions intricate.

Data Management Protocol

The bank revealed that information concerning the issuance and redemption of electoral bonds is stored in separate silos without a centralized database. This segregation is designed to protect the anonymity of donors. Donor details are securely stored in sealed covers at designated branches, with all such covers deposited at the Main Branch in Mumbai.

Background of Supreme Court Verdict

In a significant ruling on February 15, the Supreme Court invalidated the electoral bonds scheme, dealing a substantial blow to the government. The court held that the scheme contravened constitutional rights, including freedom of speech and expression, as well as the right to information. As part of its verdict, the court instructed SBI to disclose the names of contributors to the electoral bond scheme. This disclosure encompasses details such as the date of encashment and the denomination of the bonds, with a deadline set for March 6.

Implications and Conclusion

SBI’s plea for an extension underscores the logistical challenges involved in complying with the Supreme Court’s directive within the stipulated timeframe. While the court’s decision to annul the electoral bonds scheme reflects a significant legal development, its implementation poses practical hurdles for financial institutions like SBI. The outcome of SBI’s request for an extension will determine the course of action concerning the disclosure of electoral bond details and its implications for political funding transparency.

Source: The Hindu

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