Pune: Vigilant Citizen Forum Questions SBI’s Opaqueness on Legal Expenses in Election Bonds Case

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Pune, 12th April 2024: After the Supreme Court’s decision, the State Bank of India (SBI) finally submitted all information regarding election bonds to the Election Commission. The costs incurred by the State Bank on legal matters while seeking extensions in this case were requested through the Right to Information (RTI) Act. However, SBI refused to disclose these details, citing confidentiality.

On February 15, the Supreme Court overturned the election bond scheme announced by the Modi government and instructed the State Bank to provide all bond information from 2019 to the Election Commission. SBI had requested an extension from the Supreme Court, but the court rejected the request, reprimanding SBI and ordering the immediate submission of all required information to the Election Commission. Following this, SBI submitted the necessary details to the Election Commission.

Vivek Velankar of the Vigilant Citizen Forum used the Right to Information Act to inquire about the exact amount SBI spent on seeking extensions in the Supreme Court regarding the election bonds case.

Vivek Velankar stated that the State Bank of India had requested an extension of time to provide information on election bonds and had engaged senior advocate Harish Salve to represent the bank in court. Consequently, the legal expenses incurred by the bank were sought under the Right to Information Act. However, the bank refused to disclose these details, citing that the information pertains to a third party and is considered commercially confidential, thus exempting it from disclosure under the RTI Act.

Velankar criticized the bank’s refusal to make the information public, arguing that legal expenses in the election bond case were covered using funds from bank account holders and depositors. He suggested that the refusal indicates that SBI is concealing information and emphasized that the bank should recover these expenses from the Board of Directors and the Chairman.