Editorial With Sujit Nair | Has SBI Disclosed Complete Electoral Bond Data?

In a recent episode of ‘Editorial’, Mr. Sujit Nair raised concerns regarding the transparency of data related to Electoral Bonds sold by the State Bank of India (SBI). Following a Supreme Court ruling on February 15, which deemed the electoral bond scheme unconstitutional, the SBI was instructed to provide detailed information on the bonds to the Election Commission by March 6. The SBI had been selling these bonds in 30 phases since March 1, 2018. However, in a plea submitted to the court on March 4 seeking an extension, they only accounted for bonds sold in 22 phases from April 2019 onwards. Initially, they stated that 22,217 electoral bonds were used for political donations between April 12, 2019, and February 15, 2024. Later, they admitted to an error, clarifying that only 18,871 bonds were sold during that period. An additional 3,346 bonds were sold between April 1 and April 11, 2019, as indicated in a table within the compliance affidavit submitted on March 12. The SBI referenced the Supreme Court’s February 2024 judgement, which instructed them to disclose details of electoral bonds purchased since April 12, 2019. However, it seems there was a misunderstanding, as the court likely intended to request data beyond what had already been submitted in a sealed cover. This confusion resulted in a gap in the data, with some information disclosed but other parts remaining undisclosed. The sealed cover data includes information on bonds issued in ten phases between March 1, 2018, and May 15, 2019, totaling 11,681 bonds. Of these, data for 2,522 bonds issued between April 12 and May 15, 2019, has been revealed. However, information for the remaining 9,159 bonds issued between March 1, 2018, and April 12, 2019, totaling Rs 4,002 crore, is still missing. Despite a Supreme Court order on March 11 instructing the Election Commission to publish the details of the information supplied to the court, including the sealed cover data, on its official website, this information has yet to be released.

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