There is no public interest in disclosing details of the donors of political parties, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has held, rejecting a plea for making the details public.
The Commission upheld the arguments of the State Bank of India that the information sought by Pune-based RTI activist Vihar Durve was personal in nature held by it in fiduciary capacity.
Mr Durve had sought details of donor and donee of electoral bonds from the books of accounts of State Bank of India branches designated to sell these bonds, sources said.
After the denial of information by the SBI, Mr Durve approached the commission where he argued that the SBI was supposed to uphold public interest and not the interest of political parties.
He said the SBI was not in fiduciary capacity with any political party and hence has no legal duty to maximize the benefit of any public or private sector bank; there was no relationship of "trust" between them.
Mr Durve had asked that the information was to be disclosed in the interest of transparency and accountability.
The SBI, citing Electoral Bonds Scheme, 2018, said information about buyers of bonds shall remain confidential and will not be shared with any authority for any purpose.
Rejecting Mr Durve's arguments, Information Commissioner Suresh Chandra said, "There appears to be no larger public interest overriding the right to privacy of the donors and donees concerned."
"The Commission upholds the contention of the respondent (SBI) that in the disclosure of the names of the donors and donees of electoral bonds from books of accounts may be in contravention of the provisions contained under Section 8(1)(e) (fiduciary capacity) and (j) (personal information) of the RTI Act," Mr Chandra held.
Speaking to PTI, Mr Durve asserted that it was an "unreasoned order" from the CIC as it does not mention the Election Commission, Reserve Bank of India, Law Ministry objections. He said it was the CIC which had brought six national parties under the RTI Act.
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