Petitioners in the electoral bond matter, the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and Common Cause, have moved to the Supreme Court against State Bank of India (SBI) for not following directions on submitting bond details with the Election Commission.

The Apex Court, in its ruling on February 15, had asked the bank to submit details by March 6. However, two days before the deadline, the bank moved the SC seeking extension till June 30 citing operational difficulties. The Court is expected to take up the bank’s plea on Monday, February 11. The petitioners have prayed that their application should also be heard together.

The plea, filed by the two NGOs, claimed SBI’s application seeking extension of time till June 30 to disclose the details of electoral bonds encashed by political parties has been deliberately filed at the last moment to ensure that details of the donor and the amount of donations are not disclosed to the public before the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

A bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud on Thursday took note of the submissions by advocate Prashant Bhushan, who appeared on behalf of NGOs ADR and Common Cause, that he wanted initiation of contempt proceedings against the SBI. Bhushan said SBI’s application is likely to be listed on March 11 and the contempt application should also be heard together with it. “Please send an e-mail. I will pass the order,” the CJI said.

In the contempt plea, the NGOs have said : “It is submitted that the said application (by SBI) is mala fide and demonstrates a wilful and deliberate disobedience & defiance of the judgement passed by the constitution bench of this court. It is, further, a clear attempt to undermine the authority of this court.”

It said the affidavit supporting the SBI’s application has neither been sworn by the chairman or the managing director of the bank. “The petitioner herein is filing the instant petition seeking initiation of contempt proceedings against State Bank of India for wilfully and deliberately disobeying the order dated February 15 passed by this court… wherein this court directed SBI to submit details of contribution made to the political parties through electoral bonds to the Election Commission of India by March 6,” it said.

It said SBI has a record of the unique number allotted to each electoral bond and the know your customer (KYC) details of its purchaser. “The requirement of the KYC is mentioned in Section 4 of the EB scheme itself, therefore, the SBI is aware of the identity of purchasers of each electoral bond,” the plea said.

It said as per clause 7 of the electoral bond scheme, information furnished by the buyer can be disclosed when demanded by a competent court. “As per clause 12 (4) of the scheme, electoral bonds have to be encashed within 15 days failing which the amount of bonds not encashed are to be deposited by the bank to the PM Relief Fund. Thus, it is inconceivable that SBI does not have the recorded information readily available within its data base,” it said.

The plea said electoral bonds are “completely traceable”, which is evident from the fact that SBI maintains a secret number-based record of donors who buy bonds, and the political parties they donate to.