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SBI Declines To Reveal Electoral Bonds Under RTI Act

The State Bank of India (SBI) has declined to reveal, under the RTI Act, the specifics of electoral bonds provided to the Election Commission (EC), contending that it constitutes personal information held in a fiduciary capacity. This decision was made despite the records being publicly available on the poll panel’s website.

In a ruling on February 15, the Supreme Court, deeming the electoral bonds scheme “unconstitutional and manifestly arbitrary,” instructed the SBI to furnish complete bond purchase details to the EC since April 12, 2019. The EC was then directed to publish this information on its website by March 13.

However, on March 11, the court rejected SBI’s plea for an extension and mandated it to disclose bond details to the EC by close of business on March 12.

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RTI activist Commodore (retired) Lokesh Batra approached the SBI on March 13, seeking the complete bond data in digital form, following the Supreme Court’s order. The bank, citing RTI Act sections 8(1)(e) and 8(1)(j), refused, asserting the information contains purchaser and political party details held in fiduciary capacity and is thus exempt from disclosure.

Batra also requested information on fees paid by SBI to senior advocate Harish Salve to defend its case against bond record disclosure, but this was denied on similar grounds of fiduciary capacity and the personal nature of the information.


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