‘Bizarre’: SBI refuses to disclose electoral bonds data despite public availability on EC site | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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‘Bizarre’: SBI refuses to disclose electoral bonds data despite public availability on EC site

Apr 11, 2024 03:24 PM IST

In a ‘bizarre’ move, SBI refused to provide the complete information on electoral bonds despite the data already being available on the ED website.

Despite the availability of the full data on the Election Commission website, the State Bank of India (SBI) refused to disclose the details of electoral bonds, claiming that it is personal information held in a fiduciary capacity. The public sector bank cited the RTI Act while refusing to disclose the information of the now-scrapped scheme.

SBI refuses to disclose electoral bonds data(REUTERS)
SBI refuses to disclose electoral bonds data(REUTERS)

RTI activist Commodore Lokesh Batra (retired) approached the SBI on March 13 seeking the complete data of the electoral bonds in the digital form, as provided to the EC after the Supreme Court's order.

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While the information is already available to the public on the Election Commission website, the bank refused to provide the details of the electoral bonds scheme citing two exemption clauses given under the Right to Information (RTI) Act -- section 8(1)(e) that is related to records held in a fiduciary capacity and section 8(1)(j) that allows withholding personal information.

Read more: ‘Kejriwal will have the right to…’: What Delhi high court said about approvers, electoral bonds

SBI's response to the RTI activist's query stated, “Information sought by you is containing details of purchasers and political parties and hence, cannot be disclosed as it is held in fiduciary capacity disclosure of which is exempted under sections 8(1)(e) and (j) of the RTI Act.”

Batra told PTI that it is “bizarre” that SBI refused to disclose the information already available in a public forum.

He also sought the details of the legal fees for senior advocate Harish Salve, who represented the State Bank of India in the Supreme Court against the disclosure of the electoral bonds data. On the question of Salve's fee, he said the bank has denied information that involves taxpayers' money.

Read more: RBI governor on electoral bonds: ‘No comments, it's a Supreme court judgement’

The Election Commission published the electoral bonds data provided by SBI on its official website on March 14, releasing the details of the donors, amounts and the political parties that cashed in the bonds.

The Supreme Court on March 15 pulled up the SBI for not furnishing the complete information by withholding the numbers unique to each electoral bond that would help match the donors with the recipient political parties, saying the bank was "duty-bound" to reveal the information.

The SBI said a total of 22,217 electoral bonds of varying denominations were purchased by the donors between April 1, 2019, and February 15 this year, of which 22,030 were redeemed by political parties.

(With inputs from PTI)

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