SBI flayed by Opposition and citizens alike for delay in releasing electoral bond details

The general reaction was the release of donor details after the general elections would help hide the exposure of "quid pro quo" arrangements.

BySouth First Desk

Published Mar 05, 2024 | 1:15 PMUpdatedMar 05, 2024 | 1:15 PM

Representational image. (iStock)

The opposition and civil society hurled brickbats at the State Bank of India (SBI) for seeking additional time till 30 June to furnish details of political parties that have received contributions through electoral bonds.

Some have even alleged that the SBI was acting at the behest of “Modi Sarkar”. The general criticism is that the public will not know the details of contributions and donors before the general elections, which are due much before the deadline the bank sought.

Tamil Nadu IT Minister, Dr P Thiaga Rajan, took to X ridiculing the excuse of SBI for seeking more time. “If even the smallest bank in a banana republic said it could not produce such basic information (donor and recipient) in a few weeks, its banking license would be cancelled for failing basic recordkeeping regulations! This is the largest bank in the world’s 5th largest economy.”

He refused to give the bank the benefit of the doubt, saying on X: “To put this ridiculous request in context, my best guess is that there are OVER 100 firms & over 1 LAKH people in the BFSI support firms in India that can get this done in under ten days if provided the records that SBI SAYS already exist.”

Lawyer Prashant Bhushan laid the blame on the Modi government. His post said: “As expected, Modi government has filed an application through State Bank seeking time till beyond elections to disclose the name of donors thru #ElectoralBonds to political parties. The release of this info will reveal several bribe givers & Contracts/favours to them. So scared!”

The Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), the chief petitioner in the electoral bonds case, is considering all legal options, including challenging the SBI plea in court. ADR founder-member Prof Jagdeep Chhokar told a section of the media that the bank’s request was “not surprising but unfortunate”.

RTI activist Anjali Bhardwaj disbelieved the SBI’s excuse, arguing on X: “Donor names & redemption details of electoral bonds are both available in SBI’s Mumbai Branch in a sealed cover as per their affidavit. Why is SBI not disclosing these immediately? Claim that it needs four months to match purchaser & redeemer info for 22,217 bonds is ridiculous!”

Related: Electroal bonds unconstitutional

‘All this info is a mouse-click away’

Secretary-General of the CPI(M), Sitaram Yechury, said in this digital age, “all this information is a mouse-click away. Seeking extension raises suspicious apprehensions”.

Posting on X, Yechury said: “This would be a travesty of justice. Is SBI seeking extension till after the general elections to protect Modi and BJP from exposure of the “quit pro quo” that the Hon’ble Supreme Court apprehended.”

Avid social media watcher and horticulturist who goes by Adv. M on X said: “Likely that @TheOfficialSBI’s plea is at the behest of Modi Sarkar & not operational inefficiency. The Chairman & MD are likely to be hauled up for contempt. The fact remains that SBI has self-destroyed credibility and trustworthiness.

“This is proof that the SBI can easily cull out all data related to electoral bonds. Are they committing perjury by greatly exaggerating the time required? The constitution bench should summon the @TheOfficialSBI Chairman for answers if it cares about institutional honour.”

Some called for postponing the general elections till the SBI gives the donor details. One such person, G Shikaripur, said on X: “‘INDIA’ parties should issue a joint statement demanding that the ECI should POSTPONE elections until all data related to Electoral Bonds are made public – available to voters. Meanwhile, the President of India should declare the Modi regime as a ‘care-taker govt’ from May 25.”