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Honour SC verdict on Electoral Bonds proactively, MPCC asks Modi Govt


“The State Bank of India must disclose the details of the electoral bonds before the poll of the ensuing Lok Sabha election because the people of India have a right to know the secretive details of the electoral bonds that have helped the BJP to be in power,” it said.

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The Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) on Thursday demanded the Modi government to “proactively honour the Supreme Court’s verdict”. “The State Bank of India must disclose the details of the electoral bonds before the poll of the ensuing Lok Sabha election because the people of India have a right to know the secretive details of the electoral bonds that have helped the BJP to be in power,” it said.

In a Press Conference addressed by senior spokesperson & AICC Member Ningombam Bupenda Meitei at Congress Bhavan in Imphal on Thursday, the MPCC said on 15th February, 2024, the Constitution Bench of 5 Judges of the Supreme Court of India gave a judgement striking down the Electoral Bonds’ Scheme, which was introduced by the BJP Government at the Centre in 2017 in the Finance Bill 2017 during Union Budget 2017-18, as unconstitutional.

MPCC General Secretary (Admn.) S. Jeeten, party’s General Secretary (Org.) Amir Hussain and General Secretary (Elections) H. Meghachandra were present in the press conference.

It further said in the Para 219 (b), (c) and (d) of the said judgment in Writ Petition (Civil) No. 880 of 2017 in Association for Democratic Reforms &Anr. Versus Union of India &Ors., it has directed the State Bank of India to submit details of the Electoral Bonds purchased between 12th April, 2019 till date to the Election Commission of India, to submit the details of political parties which have received contributions through Electoral Bonds between 12th April, 2019 till date to the Election Commission of India, and to submit the above information to the ECI by 6th March, 2024.

But, on 4th March, 2024, the SBI filed an application to the Supreme Court seeking an extension of time till 30th June, 2024, to furnish the information regarding electoral bonds to the Election Commission of India, it added.

The MPCC spokesperson said the SBI, in its application, submitted, “In that time period, twenty-two thousand two hundred seventeen (22,217) electoral bonds were used for making donations to various political parties. Redeemed Bonds were deposited to Mumbai Main Branch by the Authorised Branches at the end of each phase in sealed envelopes. Coupled with the fact that two different information silos existed, this would mean that a total of forty four thousand four hundred and thirty four (44,434) information sets would have to be decoded, compiled and compared.”

In the meantime, today, the Association for Democratic Reforms has filed a contempt petition against the State Bank of India for non-compliance with the Supreme Court to disclose details of electoral bonds, he said.

He claimed the ruling BJP, being the primary beneficiary of the electoral bond scheme, faced discomfort after the Supreme Court’s decision. Political parties collectively received over Rs 12,000 (twelve thousand) crores since the electoral bond scheme was introduced in 2017; and, out of the total of Rs 12,000 crores, the BJP alone received Rs 6,566 (six thousand five hundred sixty six) crores which is constituting 55% of the entire electoral bonds, he added.

He further said the BJP is concerned about the potential exposure of its ties with select corporates once the information about donors becomes public. Therefore, the Modi government appears to have pressured the State Bank of India not to share the information. Hence, the SBI filed an application before the Supreme Court, seeking an extension until 30th June, 2024, which is after the ensuing Lok Sabha elections, he added.

This deliberate delay is questionable, as the country’s largest and fully computerised bank should not need months to provide information about electoral bonds, as it can be done within a few minutes of time or in a day. This delay is an indication to suggest that the SBI is being used to conceal the BJP’s financial irregularities, financial scam and the source of black money, he said.

He also said Even in 2017, the Election Commission of India, on 26th May, 2017, wrote to Ministry of Law and Justice, Government of India, that the Amendments in the Finance Act 2017, which has introduced certain amendments in the Income Tax Act, the Representation of the People Act 1951 and the Companies Act, 2013, will have serious impact on transparency aspect of political finance/ funding of political parties and would increase use of black money for political funding through shell companies.

Stating that Electoral Bond is a misnomer, which is nothing to do with funding for election, he said it has been used to enrich the party in power, particularly the BJP, by disproportionately providing an uneven level playing field among the political parties. The public has a right to know, and the public must be informed before the poll of the ensuing Lok Sabha election of 2024, as the information required can be furnished within a day in Modi’s Digital India, he added.

He maintained that historically, corporate donations to political parties were completely banned by the introduction of Section 293A into the Companies Act, 1956, by way of the Companies (Amendment) Act, 1969. But, Electoral Bonds’ Scheme (EBS) has eliminated all safeguards without any constitutionally valid justification by allowing loss-making companies to funnel money to political parties or allowing companies to pump money into political parties without any caps or allowing company boards to make decisions about political donations in secrecy or unrestricted corporate financing of political parties. he said.

“These had endangered the free and fair elections in the country. And, maximum benefits of these corporate funding through electoral bonds scheme have gone to the BJP only through the EBS,” he added.

He claimed that for Electoral Bond Scheme-2018, in a letter, dated 25-06-2018, written by the State Bank of India to Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Government of India, it furnished the information that a total cost of Rs. 1,50,15,338 was a net cost of floating of Electoral Bonds, in which Rs. 60,43,005 was used for IT Systems Development and Rs. 89,72,333 was used for Operational Costs. So, where have these IT systems, which were installed for the electoral bonds, in the SBI gone today?

Throwing a volley of questions, he asked, “Why are the SBI, which has lakhs of employees, taking months to match 44,434 sets of information? Why is the SBI taking an extension of time, which goes beyond the result of the ensuing Lok Sabha election result? Is it not an attempt by the Modi government to conceal the quid-pro-quo between the BJP and the big corporates’ funding through electoral bonds? Is this concealment not amounting to corruption?”

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