SCAM RELATED: State Bank Of India vs Association For Democratic Reforms




  • FACTS:

On 15 February 2024, the Supreme Court of India delivered a landmark judgment declaring the Electoral Bond Scheme and certain provisions of the Finance Act, 2017 unconstitutional. The court decided that the lack of transparency in the financing of political parties according to these provisions violates the right of citizens to information according to Article 19 paragraph 1 letter a) and represents arbitrariness according to Article 14 of the Constitution. In response, the court directed the State Bank of India (SBI), which is responsible for managing election bonds, to release detailed records of purchases and redemptions of bonds between April 12, 2019 and February 15, 2024. This information includes the identity of the buyers, bond amounts, and details of bond repayments by political parties. The Election Commission of India (ECI) was tasked to receive this information from the SBI by 6 March 2024 and make it available to the public on its official website by 13 March 2024. However, the SBI has sought an extension to June 30, 2024, citing issues related to consolidating data from separate record-keeping systems. This request for extension drew a contempt petition filed by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and other affected parties. The petition alleged that the SBI’s delay in disclosing details of the electoral bonds amounted to a willful violation of court orders and raised transparency concerns ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. The ADR petition highlighted the SBI’s systematic registration process, which assigns unique identification numbers to each ballot paper, suggesting that the system should facilitate publication. The lawyers argued that the SBI has the necessary technical capabilities and resources to comply with the court’s order within the stipulated time frame. They criticized the SBI for its lack of updates on its progress and pointed to discrepancies between the bank’s IT spending and alleged difficulties in compiling the required information. The contempt petition highlights concerns that the SBI has failed to fulfill its duty to disclose important details of electoral bonds as mandated by the Supreme Court order. The outcome of this legal challenge will have significant implications for electoral transparency and accountability in India.


1. The Supreme Court is currently hearing a contempt case against SBI chairman Dinesh Kumar Khera, who has sought an extension of time till June 30 to provide details related to election bonds sold since April 2019.

2. The ADR and Common Cause joint petition alleges that the SBI failed to comply with a court directive ordering it to disclose specifics of bond transactions by March 6, 2024, to promote transparency in political financing.

3. The petition highlights the discrepancy between the SBI’s claim about the complexity of decoding and the Union Government’s affidavit claiming the availability of bond-related data.

  1. It claims that SBI has the necessary technological capabilities to comply, backed by significant investment in IT infrastructure and systems in place to manage the sale and redemption of electoral bonds.
  1. Article 19 paragraph 1 letter a) of the Constitution, which refers to the right to freedom of speech and expression.
  2. 2. Parts of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, and the Income Tax Act, 1961 as amended by the provisions of the Finance Act, 2017.
  3. 3. Part 4 of the Electoral Bond Scheme, which is likely to outline the Know Your Customer (KYC) details requirements.
  4. 4. Clause 7 and Clause 12(4) of the Electoral Bond Scheme relating to the disclosure of information provided by purchasers and the deposit of outstanding bonds in the PM Relief Fund

The petitioners, the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) emphasize the importance of transparency in political funding following the landmark judgment of this Court dated 15 February 2024. This judgment declared the scheme of electoral bonds and the related provisions of the Finance Act of 2017 as unconstitutional, pointing to the violation of the citizen’s right to information under Article 19, paragraph 1 letter a) and arbitrarily in violation of Article 14 of the Constitution. In response, the court directed the State Bank of India (SBI) to disclose specific details regarding the electoral bond transactions. The court directed the SBI to provide detailed information on electoral bonds purchased and redeemed between April 12, 2019, and February 15, 2024, including names of buyers, dates of purchase, bond denominations, and details of redemption by political parties, to increase transparency in political funding. Unfortunately, at the eleventh hour, the SBI requested an extension to June 30, 2024, to comply with these obligations, undermining the urgency and importance of political finance transparency highlighted in the court’s decision. During the proceedings, counsel for the SBI argued that the disclosure process was complicated due to the separation of information into separate forces. However, it is essential to note that the required data for publication is in line with the Court’s guidelines within the SBI’s reach and can realistically be made available within the stipulated time limits. Additionally, SBI’s own Electoral Bond Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) confirm that the necessary information is readily available and highlight the feasibility of meeting the deadlines. In conclusion, we urge the Court to deny the SBI’s request for an extension and uphold the integrity of its judgment by instructing the SBI to disclose the details of the electoral bonds by March 12, 2024, as originally ordered. Compliance with the Court’s guidelines is essential to ensure transparency and accountability in policy funding.


In response to the allegations leveled by the petitioners namely the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and the Communist Party of India (Marxist), State Bank of India (SBI) advances the following arguments. The court’s February 15, 2024 order requires SBI to disclose detailed information on electoral bond transactions, which SBI acknowledges. However, SBI is seeking an extension to 30 June 2024 to meet these obligations due to the complex and comprehensive nature of the data-matching processes involved. It is important to recognize the logistical challenges involved in deciphering and comparing donor information across separate data systems, as detailed in the SBI submission. This process involves the processing of a significant amount of data, with more than 22,000 bonds purchased during the specified period. These challenges require painstaking and time-consuming efforts to ensure accuracy and compliance with court guidelines. In addition, the separation of information into separate data systems underscores the detailed work required to accurately match donors and redemption details. SBI’s request for an extension is not an attempt to avoid responsibility, but rather a pragmatic approach to effectively manage the complexities of this disclosure process. The confidentiality of electoral bond transactions underscores the need to follow strict protocols as outlined in the electoral bond scheme itself. SBI recognizes the importance of transparency and emphasizes the need to maintain the integrity of sensitive financial information. In conclusion, the SBI urges the court to consider the practical challenges outlined and grant the requested extension, which will allow the SBI to fully comply with the guidelines while maintaining the principles of transparency and care.


The decision of the Supreme Court of February 15, 2024, annulled the validity of the electoral bond scheme and specific provisions of the Finance Act of 2017. The Court decided that the non-disclosure of information on financing by political entities violated the right of citizens to information under Article 19, paragraph 1(a) of the Constitution and considered the changes enabling unlimited financing of enterprises to be arbitrary and contrary to Article 14. To implement the order, the court ordered the State Bank of India (SBI) to disclose details of all electoral bonds purchased and redeemed between April 12, 2019 and February 15, 2024. This included details of the buyer, dates of purchase, and denominations with the Election Commission of India ( ECI) tasked with compiling and publishing this data on its website by March 13, 2024. The court ordered the SBI to stop issuing electoral bonds and ordered the disclosure of transaction details within three weeks of the judgment. The court acknowledged SBI’s logistical problems in comparing data from different systems and emphasized that basic information was within SBI’s reach. Following the SBI’s request for an extension till June 30, 2024, the petitioners – Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and Communist Party of India (Marxist) – sought to hold the SBI in contempt. The court denied SBI’s request for an extension, ordered disclosure by March 12, 2024, and ordered the ECI to compile and publish the information by March 15, 2024. The court refrained from immediate contempt but warned of consequences for non-compliance and emphasized the importance of transparency in election funding and proceedings. In a judgment issued on March 11, 2024, the court addressed SBI’s problems in collecting and disclosing details of electoral bonds, citing SBI’s own FAQs that state the availability of buyer and redemption information. Failure to meet the deadlines could lead to contempt proceedings, underscoring the need to comply with court orders to uphold democratic principles.


SCAM RELATED: State Bank Of India vs Association For Democratic Reforms

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