Skip to main content

Who bought and sold electoral bonds to political parties? SBI refuses to divulge under RTI for second time

By Our Representative
State Bank of India (SBI) has once again refused to divulge details, sought under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005, of the Electoral Bond (EB) sale data of donors and recipient political parties, even though admitting that whatever little information it had was “goofed up” while handing it over to senior RTI activist, Venkatesh Nayak, during his earlier appeal.
Nayak, who is with the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), has revealed in an email alert that he had sought, under RTI, information about the buyers of Electoral Bonds (EBs) and political parties, which received them. The Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) denied the information about buyers and the denominations of EBs they purchased, saying that compiling such information would lead to disproportionate diversion of the Bank's resources.
The CPIO also said that all reports sent to the Central government about the sale and purchase of EBs were in "fiduciary capacity" and could not be disclosed under Section 8(1)(e) of the RTI Act. Hence, the CPIO provided only denomination-wise figures for the sale of EBs through the designated branches.
Following an appeal before the SBI's First Appellate Authority (FAA) against CPIO’s rule, Nayak was told that the CPIO had goofed up while providing the EB sale data against his RTI application. FAA said, the CPIO’s sale data attributed to SBI’s Gandhinagar Branch actually belonged to the Bengaluru branch of SBI.
At the same time, FAA, says Nayak, FAA “refused to examine” the CPIO's reply in light of the RBI's Master Circular of July 2015 and an Supreme Court ruling of December 2015 on the nature of "fiduciary relationship", even as ignoring the Central Information Commission’s (CIC’s) 12-year-old ruling about the illegal practice of using Section 7(9) of the RTI Act for refusing information.
RBI's July 2015 Master Circular points to the exceptions under which the secrecy clause between the bank and the customer cannot be invoked. These include, where a “disclosure is under compulsion of law”, where “there is duty to the public to disclose”, where “interest of bank requires disclosure”, and where “the disclosure is made with the express or implied consent of the customer."
As for the Supreme Court, it rejected in its ruling RBI's claim that it stands in a "fiduciary" relationship with the banks that it regulate, hence would not disclose information under RTI. This ruling came in the context of information requests regarding non-performing assets (NPAs) and loan defaulters from public sector banks.
FAA also “upheld the CPIO's decision to reject information about buyers of EBs”, says Nayak, because, in his view, “such information is not available in compiled form and compiling it would disproportionately divert SBI's resources.”
Nayak notes, “My argument that Section 7(9) cannot be used to reject an RTI application but must be used to facilitate access to the requested information in any other form were simply ignored by the FAA. The FAA chose to mechanically uphold the CPIO's decision – an indication of a refusal to apply one's mind despite compelling case law.”
Comments Nayak, the replies by CPIO and FAA suggest the extent to which transparency in political party funding respected. He underlines, the EB scheme is “a backward leap to the era of secrecy”, something the new transparent system is proving it time and again.

Comments

Uma said…
No one can reply honestly if he or she is doing something underhand so there is no point in filing RTI applications in this case. The truth will NEVER come out
Venkatesh Nayak said…
Thanks for reading the article and commenting it. Very respectfully I would like to say- because they will not divulge it, there is a reason to use RTI. This is a struggle and will not be an easy one.

TRENDING

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

BSF should take full responsibility for death of 4 kids in West Bengal: Rights defender

By Kirity Roy*  One is deeply disturbed and appalled by the callous trench-digging by BSF in Chetnagachh village under Daspara Gram Panchayat, Chopra, North Dinajpur District, West Bengal that has claimed the lives of four children. Along the entire stretch of Indo-Bangladesh border of West Bengal instead of guarding the actual border delineated by the international border pillars, BSF builds fences and digs trenches well inside the Indian territory, passing through villages and encroaching on private lands, often without due clearance or consent. 

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Don't agree on domestic subsidies, ensure food security at WTO meet: Farmer leaders

Counterview Desk  The Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements (ICCFM), a top network of farmers’ organizations in India, in a letter to Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce and Industry, has asked him to “safeguard food security and sovereignty, even as ensuring peasants' rights" at the 13th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO MC 13), to take place from 26 to 29 February 2024 in Abu Dhabi.

Students, lawyers, professors detained in Delhi for demonstrating in support of farmers

By Our Representative  About 25 protestors, belonging to the civil rights network, Campaign Against State Repression (CASR), a coalition of over 40 organisations, were detained at Jantar Mantar for holding a demonstration in support of the farmers' stir on Friday. Those detained included students, lawyers and professors, including Prof Nandita Narain and Prof N Sachin. 

Social justice day amidst 'official neglect' of salt pan workers in Little Rann of Kutch

By Prerana Pamkar*  In India’s struggle for Independence, the Salt Satyagraha stands as a landmark movement and a powerful symbol of nonviolent resistance. Led by Mahatma Gandhi, countless determined citizens walked from Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi in Gujarat. However, the Gujarat which witnessed the power of the common Indian during the freedom struggle is now in the throes of another significant movement: this time it is seeking to free salt pan workers from untenable working conditions in the Little Rann of Kutch (LRK).

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Interpreting UAPA bail provisions: Is Supreme Court setting the clock back?

By Kavita Srivastava*, Dr V Suresh** The Supreme Court in its ruling on 7th February, 2024 in   `Gurvinder Singh v State of Punjab’ held that its own well-developed jurisprudence that "Bail is the rule and jail the exception" will not apply to those charged under the UAPA.

Jallianwala massacre: Why Indian govt hasn't ever officially sought apology from UK

By Manjari Chatterjee Miller*  The king of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander, apologized in July 2023 for his ancestors’ role in the colonial slave trade. He is not alone in expressing remorse for past wrongs. In 2021, France returned 26 works of art seized by French colonial soldiers in Africa – the largest restitution France has ever made to a former colony. In the same year, Germany officially apologized for its 1904-08 genocide of the Herero and Nama people of Namibia and agreed to fund reconstruction and development projects in Namibia. .

Will Budget 2024 help empower city govts, make them India's growth engines?

By Soumyadip Chattopadhyay, Arjun Kumar* Cities in India are envisioned as engines of growth. Any meaningful long-term vision for India would be incomplete without planning for the cities and quite rightly, urbanization is considered as one of the country’s top developmental challenges. Realization of full potential of cities depends crucially on their ability to provide ‘enabling’ environment especially in terms of sustained provision of a wide range of urban infrastructure and services.