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Updated March 19th, 2024 at 17:18 IST

Electoral bonds retrospective payment exchange details to have grave impact, say Assocham & CII

The SC has refused to entertain submissions of ASSOCHAM, CII against disclosure of electoral bonds details.

Reported by: Business Desk
SBI plea rejection electoral bonds
SBI plea rejection electoral bonds | Image:Republic
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SC's directive on alphanumeric numbers: The industry bodies  Associated Chambers of Commerce & Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) have expressed India Inc.’s concerns that a full disclosure of electoral bond details, will have a negative impact on the business community in India. 
The plea of CII and Assocham was Monday not listed in the Supreme Court, as the apex court had stated that not ordering disclosure of details of electoral bonds prior to April 12, 2019, was a "conscious choice" by the Constitution bench. The Supreme Court had said while refusing to entertain the submissions of ASSOCHAM and CII against the disclosure of bond details on the grounds of their plea not being listed. A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud referred to the April 2019 interim order passed by the apex court in the case.

SC seeks finer details 

The apex court on April 12, 2019, had said it had issued an interim order directing that the information about the donations received and donations that will be received must be submitted by political parties to the EC in a sealed cover.
On Monday, the bench did not allow a hearing on unlisted pleas of industry bodies ASSOCHAM and CII against the disclosure of bond details.
The three major industry bodies, Assocham, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), and CII had moved the SC “opposing the limited directions passed by this Hon’ble Court pertaining to disclosure of the alpha-numeric numbers of the electoral bond.”

“…it is imperative to recognise the potential adverse impact of mandating parties to breach confidentiality agreements and disclose information based on a new standard. Such a directive, if applied retrospectively, undermines the rule of law and presents grave implications for the industry’s interests,” ASSOCHAM had said in its plea before the SC.

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Funding patterns 

As senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for ASSOCHAM and CII, referred to the applications filed by the industry bodies, the CJI said, "We have no such application on board." Rohatgi asked how the details can be asked to be divulged now when the electoral bonds scheme had introduced anonymous financial contributions to political parties.
"With effect from April 12, 2019, we had directed the collection of details. Everyone was put to notice at that time. This is why we did not ask for disclosure of bonds sold prior to the interim order. This was a conscious choice by the Constitution bench," Justice Chandrachud said.

The industry bodies were well aware of the ongoing proceedings in the electoral bonds case, the bench, also comprising justices Sanjiv Khanna, B R Gavai, J B Pardiwala, and Manoj Misra, said and asked Rohatgi as to why they chose not to approach it earlier.
Justice Gavai said now such unlisted applications cannot be taken up for hearing.Echoing his views, the CJI said if such an unlisted application is allowed to be taken up, then how can the bench deny the same relief to other lawyers?
The apex court told the State Bank of India to make a "complete disclosure" of all details related to the electoral bonds scheme by March 21.

In a landmark verdict on February 15, a five-judge Constitution bench had done away with the scheme, calling it "unconstitutional", and ordered disclosure by the Election Commission of donors, the amount donated by them and the recipients by March 13.
Last Friday, the apex court had admonished SBI for furnishing incomplete information and issued a notice to the bank to explain the reasons for the non-disclosure of unique alphanumeric numbers

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(With PTI input) 

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Published March 19th, 2024 at 11:24 IST

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