Dismissal  of SBI’s   application  for extension  of time was a shot in the  arm of democracy

Estimated read time 4 min read

By  our  legal  Correspondent

New  Del, March 12 (IVC)    The  dismissal of the State Bank  of India (SIB)  application  for  time  till the end  of  June 30  by  the Supreme Court here yesterday   for providing  details  of electoral  bonds  was a shot  in the  arm  of democracy  not only  in India  but  the  world over.

                A  five-judge Bench   headed  by  the  Chief  justice of India D Y Chandrachud  here  on  Feb   15,  struck  down the  electoral  bonds  as  unconstitutional  and gave  the  bank  yesterday 24  hours, that  is  close  of  business hours  on  March  12 ,  to  provide the  details of the  electoral  bonds   to the Election Commission of India   while  dismissing the  application of the SBI on March 11.

                The  decision of  court  was also described a slap  in the face of the SBI  when court asked when  for the last 26 the Bank and what was doing  it  so far. 

                The  Counsel for the SBI, Senior  Advocate  Harish Salve held that   the  matching the bonds  purchased   and the names of the donors   with  the parties which  redeemed the bonds was a time consuming  and complex exercise. The  Chief  Justice  Chandrachud   said that the judgment on Feb  15 had not asked the bank to  “match” information  to  ascertain  contributions and  political  parties .

                “We  had only asked  you   to  do  a plain disclosure.  We  just wanted  you  to  comply  with  the judgment  of Feb 15. It was very  clear  from the application  of  the SBI  and its argument in the apex court  that its plea would  be dismissed at threshold itself  as the  match  put forward by  the bank was non est and a slap-stick.

                It  was  clear  that the application of SBI   was due to external  pressure on it. The   Chief  Justice  in his judgment of Feb 15  written  for himself  and justices  Gavai, Pardiwala and  Misra  held   that the electoral bonds  violated Article 19 (1) of  the  Constitution

And pointed out  “information about  funding  of political  parties  is essential for the effective exercise  of the choice of voting”.

                The  supreme  Court  had also struck down  amendments to the Income Tax Act  and representation of people Act  which made the   donations anonymous.  The   Court  also said that  the amendment to the  Companies Act that allowing blanket  corporate  funding was unconstitutional.

                Before  the  amendment to the Companies Act in 2017, loss-making  companies were not  allowed   to  contribute  to  political  parties.

                The  act of the SBI  for  seeking  time for providing  details  of the  electoral   was  based  on a non est  issue  which  the judgment had not asked. It  was clear that the  SBI  did not want to divulge the details of the electoral bonds, as directed by the apex court,  before  the  completion of elections to the 18th Lok Sabha.

                Under  the  circumstances ,  it was clear  that the SBI  acted as a proxy to the Union Government  in spite  of the court’s directive. A  huge  amount  of  unaccounted  money  as being spent by the corporates  in the  elections and with the strength  of their contribution , the corporate exert their  pressure in  the ruling party’s policies which was not  good for the healthy democracy.

                According  to  media reports, almost 60  per  cent of  the  funds  received  by  the  political  parties  cannot  be  traced and come from unknown sources  including electoral bonds.                 Between  the  financial years 2004-2005  and 2022-23 ,  the  country’s  six  national  parties  collected Rs 19,083.08  crores  from unknown sources. 

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