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SBI turns down RTI application on electoral bonds

The bank also refused to divulge any details of the action taken by it on such communication from the RBI and the government
New Delhi: The State Bank of India (SBI) has turned down a Right to Information (RTI) application seeking the communications it received from the government or the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on electoral bonds, saying that the information sought was personal and was held by the bank in “fiduciary capacity.” The application was filed by an RTI activist based in Pune, Vihar Durve. Dhurve had asked the bank to provide copies of letters, correspondence, directions, notifications or e-mails received from the RBI or any government department between 2017 and 2019.

Bank withholds information

“Information sought by the applicant cannot be disclosed as it is in fiduciary capacity, disclosure of which is exempted under Section 8(1) (e) and 8(1) (j) of the RTI Act, 2005,” the Central Public Information Officer of the bank said. The bank also refused to divulge any details of the action taken by it on such communication from the RBI and the government.

SBI’s exclusivity

The SBI has exclusive rights to sell electoral bonds, which can be purchased to give donations to political parties anonymously. The sale of bonds opens when the Finance Ministry issues a notification of their sale for a given period. The electoral bond scheme was notified by the Centre in 2018 and has been challenged in the Supreme Court.

The backdrop

Political parties registered under Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 (43 of 1951) and that have secured at least 1 percent of the votes polled in the last General Elections or Assembly elections can receive donations via bonds.