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India’s Supreme Court Directs SBI to Disclose Electoral Bonds Information by Tuesday, March 12, 2024

New Delhi, March 11 The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed the application filed by the State Bank of India (SBI) seeking an extension of time, until June 30, for making details of the encashed Electoral Bonds public.

Rejecting the application, a Constitution Bench, headed by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud, ordered the SBI to disclose the information by the close of business hours on Tuesday, March 12.

“As regards, the Election Commission of India, we direct that the ECI shall compile the information and publish the details on its official website no later than by 5 pm on 15 March, 2024,” ordered the 5-judge Bench, also comprising Justices Sanjiv Khanna, B.R. Gavai, J.B. Padriwala and Manoj Misra.

In its order, the Constitution Bench noted that the Electoral Bonds Scheme — which had been held unconstitutional on February 15 — itself mandated SBI to disclose information when demanded by a court.

In an application filed on March 4, the SBI said that “decoding” of the Electoral Bonds and the matching of the donor to the donations is a complex and time-consuming exercise and the timeline of three weeks would not be sufficient for the entire exercise to be completed.

In a verdict delivered on February 15, the Supreme Court struck down the Electoral Bonds Scheme, 2018 as unconstitutional and ordered the SBI to forthwith stop their issuance. It had asked the SBI to submit details of the Electoral Bonds purchased since April 2019 to the Election Commission of India by March 6 for publication on the official website of the poll body.

“SBI must disclose details of each Electoral Bond encashed by political parties which shall include the date of encashment and the denomination of the Electoral Bond. SBI shall submit the above information to the ECI within three weeks from the date of this judgment, that is, by March 6, 2024,” it had said.

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