The Supreme Court of India on Monday directed the State Bank of India to reveal the data about all electoral bonds, the alphanumeric numbers, to the Election Commission of India by 5 pm on March 21, 2024.

The SC's latest ruling comes amid a submission by industry bodies, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) and Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ACCII), which urged the top court to defer the issue of unique identification numbers.

"There is no manner of doubt that SBI shall make disclosure of all information with it and it shall include the details of electoral bond numbers or the alphanumeric numbers with it," a five-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud said.

The SC said that "SBI should not be selective in disclosing the details."

Replying in court, senior advocate Harish Salve, who was appearing in the court on behalf of SBI, said the lender is not hiding any information and that it'll share every bit of information, including the bond numbers.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing on behalf of the Centre, said the apex court's judgement on electoral bonds was being interpreted in a different way outside the court. "Now the witch-hunting has started in another level and not at the level of the Central government," SG Mehta said. To this, the SC bench said it is only "enforcing" its earlier directions of the judgement on electoral bonds.

Today's SC directions to SBI come after its March 15 orders seeking the lender's response on the non-disclosure of electoral bond numbers. This would identify the bond encasher and recipient.

The ECI, meanwhile, released additional details about electoral bonds for the period before April 12, 2019, on Sunday. The data includes the amount redeemed by parties and related bank account information and came after last week when it released electoral bond details between April 2019 and February 2024.

Key details from new data show the BJP received electoral bonds totalling ₹6,986.5 crore, a maximum of ₹2,555 crore of which was encashed in FY20. The second-biggest receiver of electoral bonds was Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress, which collected ₹1,397 crore. The Congress party, third among top electoral bonds receivers, encashed electoral bonds worth ₹1,334.35 crore. The Bharat Rashtra Samithi was the fourth largest receiver at ₹1,322 crore. BJD received electoral bonds worth ₹944.5 crore.

The EC had earlier disclosed a list of purchasers of electoral bonds between April 2019 and February 2024. As per the data disclosed by SBI, the top 10 entities bought electoral bonds worth ₹4,200 crore.

Terming it "unconstitutional", the SC had struck down the electoral bond scheme on February 15, 2024, which allowed donors to anonymously buy electoral bonds and send funds to a political party. The apex court had also ordered state-run SBI to share the records of electoral bonds issued in the past with the EC.

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