SCBA chief urges President Murmu to seek reference of SC verdict on electoral bonds

SCBA chief Adish C Aggarwala
SCBA chief Adish C Aggarwala

New Delhi | In an unusual development, Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) chief Adish C Aggarwala on Tuesday wrote to President Droupadi Murmu urging her to seek presidential reference of the apex court judgement in the electoral bonds scheme case and not to give effect to it unless the top court has reheard the matter.

Aggarwala, in his letter to the president, said, "Revealing the names of corporates that had contributed to different political parties would render the corporates vulnerable for victimization.

"The possibility of them being singled out by those parties that had received less contribution from them, and harassed cannot be ruled out if the names of corporates and their quantum of contributions to various parties are revealed. This will be reneging on the promise given to them while accepting their voluntary contributions."

Aggarwala, who is also the chairperson of All India Bar Association, said if the judgment is given effect to retrospectively by releasing all sensitive information, it will shatter "the reputation the nation enjoys in the international arena".

He said, "Disclosing such sensitive information, that too retrospectively, will result in chilling effect in corporate donations and participation in the democratic process."

He said the disclosure would dry up further donations and such an act would discourage and dissuade foreign corporate entities from setting shop in India or participating in the democratic process.

The bar body leader urged Murmu to seek presidential reference in the electoral bonds case so the entire proceedings could be reheard and complete justice could be done to "Parliament of India, political parties, corporates and the general public."

Article 143 of the Constitution confers advisory jurisdiction on the Supreme Court and empowers the President of India to consult the top court. If it appears to the president that a question of law or fact has arisen, or can arise in future which is of public importance and it is beneficial to obtain the opinion of the top court, the president may refer the question for its consideration.

The top court had on Monday ordered the State Bank of India to disclose the details of the electoral bonds encashed by political parties to the Election Commission by the close of business hours on March 12 and warned the country's largest public sector bank that the court may proceed against it for "wilful disobedience" if it failed to comply with its directions and deadlines.

The five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud, while dismissing the State Bank of India's plea seeking extension of time till June 30 to disclose the details, also directed the EC to publish the information shared by the bank on its official website by 5 p.m. on March 15.

In a landmark verdict delivered on February 15, the same five-judge constitution bench had scrapped the Centre's controversial 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.

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