Electoral Bonds: Supreme Court to hear Election Commission plea seeking modification in previous order on Friday

The Supreme Court agreed to hear on Friday, a petition filed by the Election Commission of India seeking modification in the Apex Court verdict regarding electoral bonds.

The petition requested to return to the poll body the data submitted before the Court as the Commission had not maintained copies of the same.

The same Constitution Bench which decided the electoral bonds case, will sit at 10:30 am tomorrow to hear the modification plea.

In a related development, ECI today uploaded the data supplied by the State Bank of India regarding electoral bonds on its website.

In a press release, the Commission said it has uploaded the data on its website as received from SBI on an “as is where is basis”.

Two sets of files can be seen on the webpage. One set contains the purchase details – date of purchase of the electoral bond, the name of the purchaser and the denomination.

The second set contains the political parties’ details- date of encashment, the name of the political party and the denomination. Notably, no link between the purchaser and the party is discernible from the files.

Earlier on March 12, the State Bank of India (SBI) sent all data relating to the electoral bonds scheme to the ECI within the stipulated time frame of 5.30 pm set by the Supreme Court.

On March 11, the Apex Court had asked SBI to furnish details of buyers of electoral bonds and names of political parties that have encashed those instruments by Tuesday to the Election Commission.

The court had warned that it may proceed against SBI for wilful disobedience if the bank failed to comply with its directions and deadlines.

A five-judge Supreme Court bench including CJI DY Chandrachud, Justices Sanjiv Khanna, B R Gavai, J B Pardiwala, and Manoj Misra dismissed the plea by SBI seeking time till June 30 to submit details of electoral bonds purchased since April 12, 2019, to the ECI, mentioning that the required information was readily available with the state-owned bank, and provided it time until the business hours of March 12 to do so. The court further ordered that the ECI will make public the information submitted by SBI by posting such details on its website by 5pm on March 15.

In its plea, the SBI submitted that the retrieval of information from each silo and the procedure of matching the information of one silo to that of the other would be a time consuming exercise. It also explained that the details are sorted separately, some of the details like number of bonds are stored digitally while the other details like the name of the purchaser, KYC etc are stored physically. The plea contended that the purpose of storing all details was to ascertain that it cannot be gathered easily to achieve the object of the scheme.

Earlier on February 15, the same five judge bench, striked down the electoral bond scheme, terming it to be unconstitutional. Pronouncing its order, the court directed the State Bank of India to cease issuing electoral bonds with immediate effect.

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