Did not authorise letter on electoral bonds to President Murmu, says Supreme Court Bar Association

The Supreme Court Bar Association on Tuesday clarified that it has not authorised Adish Aggarwala, the association’s president, to write to President Droupadi Murmu urging her not to enforce the Supreme Court’s electoral bond verdict.

In a letter to Murmu earlier on Tuesday, Aggarwala had urged Murmu to put the top court’s judgement on hold till the matter is heard once again by the court.

“The Supreme Court should not allow itself to deliver judgments that would create constitutional stalemate, undermine the majesty of the Parliament of India, the collective wisdom of the people’s representatives gathered in the Parliament and create a question mark over the very democratic functioning of political parties themselves,” Aggarwala’s letter said.

He also claimed that revealing the names of corporates who had contributed to different political parties would leave them vulnerable to “victimisation”, reported PTI.

The bar association in a resolution said that the letter appears to have been written by Aggarwala in his capacity as the chairman of the All India Bar Association. It said, however, that below his signature, the letter mentioned Aggarwala’s designation as the “President of the Supreme Court Bar Association”.

“Therefore, it has become expedient for the Executive Committee of the Supreme Court Bar Association to make it abundantly clear that the members of the committee have neither authorised the president [Aggarwala] to write any such letter nor do they subscribe to his views as expressed therein,” read the resolution.

It added that the executive committee of the association views “this act [Aggarwala’s letter to President Murmu] as well as the contents therein as an attempt to overreach and undermine the authority of the Supreme Court of India and unequivocally condemn the same”.

Supreme Court judgement

The Supreme Court had on February 15 directed the State Bank of India to issue details of the political parties that received electoral bonds from April 12, 2019, and submit them to the Election Commission by March 6. The court had said that the electoral bonds could lead to quid pro quo arrangements between donors and political parties when it struck down the scheme as unconstitutional.

On March 4, the government-owned bank sought an extension till June 30 from the court to provide the information to the Election Commission.

The bank said that 22,217 electoral bonds were issued between the period April 12, 2019 to February 15, 2024. The “details of purchases made at the branches are not maintained centrally at any one place, such as the name of purchaser/donor which could be tallied with date of issue, place of issue (branch), denomination of bond, bond number”, it said in its plea.

The top court on Monday dismissed the bank’s plea and directed it to disclose the details of the electoral bonds to the Election Commission by March 12. A day later, the bank submitted the data.

Electoral bonds were monetary instruments that citizens or corporate groups could buy from the State Bank of India and give to a political party, which could then redeem them.

The entire process was anonymous since buyers were not required to declare their purchase of these interest-free bonds and political parties did not need to show the source of the money. However, the Centre could access information about these donors as it controls the State Bank of India.

The electoral bonds scheme was introduced by the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Union government in 2018.

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