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Electoral Bonds: Cong hails SC decision of dismissing SBI plea but calls for info on 'who gave who'

New Delhi, Mar 11 (PTI) The Congress on Monday hailed the Supreme Court for dismissing the SBI's plea seeking an extension of time to furnish electoral bond details but said it should also give directions to ensure the nation gets to know who contributed funds to the BJP to bag contracts.

New Delhi, Mar 11 (PTI) The Congress on Monday hailed the Supreme Court for dismissing the SBI's plea seeking an extension of time to furnish electoral bond details but said it should also give directions to ensure the nation gets to know who contributed funds to the BJP to bag contracts.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said those who came to power on the promise of bringing black money back from Swiss banks in 100 days did whatever they could to hide the data of their own bank from the Supreme Court.

Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court rejected the State Bank of India's plea seeking an extension of time and ordered it to disclose the details of electoral bonds to the Election Commission by close of business hours on March 12. A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud also directed the EC to publish the details on March 15.

The bench, however, said it had not directed the bank to match the details of donors and donee with other information. The SBI has to just open the sealed cover, collate the details and give the information to the EC, it said.

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge alleged that after the SBI asked for four-and-a-half months to publish the electoral bond details, it became clear that the Narendra Modi government was making every possible effort to cover up its dark deeds.

'With the Supreme Court's decision, the country will soon come to know who donated to the BJP through electoral bonds. This is the first step in exposing the corruption, scams and transactions of the Modi government,' Kharge said in a post in Hindi on 'X'.

'Even now, the country will not find out for which contracts the select capitalist donors of the BJP were giving donations to the Modi government and the Supreme Court should give appropriate directions for that,' he said.

Kharge also cited media reports to allege that the BJP used to 'extort donations' by getting the Enforcement Directorate, Central Bureau of Investigation and the Income Tax Department to conduct raids.

'The Supreme Court's decision is a victory for transparency, accountability, and a level-playing field in democracy,' the Congress president added.

At a press conference, Kharge was asked about the top court not directing the bank to match the details of donors and donee with other information to which the Congress president said the information as to who gave whom would not be known.

'What is the point of that? We need to know who gave you (the government) the donation, what contracts were given to that person, what exemptions from ED were given, what were I-T department exemptions and what kind of benefit was given to them. But you are not giving that,' he said.

Rahul Gandhi too attacked the government over the electoral bonds issue, saying, 'Narendra Modi's 'donation business' is about to be exposed!' Those who came to power by promising to bring back black money from Swiss banks in 100 days left no stone unturned in the Supreme Court to hide their own bank data, Gandhi said in a swipe at the Modi government.

'Electoral Bonds will prove to be the biggest scam in Indian history and will reveal the real face of Narendra Modi in front of the country by exposing the nexus between corrupt industrialists and the government,' the former Congress chief said in a post in Hindi on 'X'.

'The chronology is clear -- donate and take business; donate and take protection,' Gandhi added.

He alleged that the Modi government showered blessings on those who donated and imposed tax burdens on the general public.

In a post on 'X', Congress general secretary, organisation, K C Venugopal, said, 'The Supreme Court has once again come to protect Indian democracy from the devious machinations of this regime.' 'It was laughable for the SBI to seek an extension on a simple one-day job. The fact is that the government is scared of all their skeletons tumbling out of the closet,' he said, adding, 'This mega corruption scandal, as certified by the Supreme Court, will expose the unholy nexus between the BJP and its corrupt corporate masters.' Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram said the top court's order 'is a tight slap' on the SBI for defying its earlier order.

'This was a self-inflicted stain. The order of the Supreme Court today gives an opportunity to SBI to wipe the stain and redeem itself. I am sorry for the Chairman of SBI and the fine band of officers that they placed themselves in this situation,' Chidambaram said in a post on 'X'.

The Supreme Court bench, also comprising Justice Sanjiv Khanna, Justice B R Gavai, Justice J B Pardiwala and Justice Manoj Misra, put the SBI on notice that the apex court may be inclined to proceed against it for 'wilful disobedience' of its February 15 verdict if the bank failed to comply with its directions and timelines.

In a landmark verdict delivered on February 15, a five-judge Constitution bench scrapped the Centre's electoral bonds scheme that allowed anonymous political funding, calling it 'unconstitutional' and ordered disclosure by the EC of donors, the amount donated by them and the recipients by March 13.

Ordering the closure of the scheme, the top court directed the SBI, the authorised financial institution under the scheme, to submit by March 6 the details of the electoral bonds purchased since April 12, 2019, till date to the Election Commission.

On Monday, the bench was hearing the bank's application seeking an extension of time till June 30 to furnish the details. PTI ASK ASK NSD NSD

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