"Hiding Info": Congress On SBI Seeking More Time For Electoral Bonds Data

While the court had set a March 6 deadline, the SBI has sought an extension till June 30.

The data was to be given to the poll panel, which was supposed to publish it on its website by March 13.

New Delhi:

A day after the State Bank of India requested the Supreme Court to extend the deadline for giving information about donations made through electoral bonds, the Congress has hit out at the BJP and said the party is using the bank as a shield to hide the details. With the SBI seeking an extension till June 30 - as against the court's deadline of March 6 - the Congress has also accused the BJP of trying to keep the data on the "unconstitutional bonds" under wraps until after the Lok Sabha elections. 

"Not unexpectedly, but in a very shocking and brazen way, the SBI has approached the Supreme Court and has sought time until June 30. SBI is not just India's largest lender, it is a fully computerised bank. It operates 48 crore bank accounts, 66,000 ATMs and has nearly 23,000 branches all over the country and beyond India. And this SBI needs five months to give data on just 22,217 electoral bonds. It can get this information in a click. Why is the BJP so scared of these names coming out," Congress leader Supriya Shrinate asked on Tuesday.

Ms Shrinate said about Rs 12,000 crore was collected by parties through electoral bonds between 2017 and 2023 and "two-thirds" of that, or nearly Rs 6,500 crore, went to the BJP while the Congress got a "measly" 9%. 

"Do people in this democracy not have a right to know who is donating to which party, and how much, and at what time? Is there a quid pro quo? SBI woke up after 20-25 days and realised it needs additional time. There is a clear attempt by the SBI and the government of India to conceal the names of donors," she alleged. 

In a landmark judgment on February 15, the Supreme Court had declared the electoral bonds scheme unconstitutional and said that it violates the citizens' right to information. Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud had also said that the scheme was unconstitutional and arbitrary, and could lead to a quid pro quo arrangement between political parties and donors.

Asking the SBI to stop issuing the bonds immediately, the court had ordered the bank to give details of donations made through this mode to the Election Commission of India by March 6. The poll panel was asked to publish the information on its website by March 13. The SBI approached the court on Monday and sought an extension of the deadline till June 30.