Electoral bonds: SBI refuses to disclose legal fees paid to Harish Salve in RTI reply

RTI Activist Ajay Bose said that the legal fees paid to the advocate was taxpayers money and questioned why the SBI was hiding this information.
Harish Salve
Harish Salve
Written by:

The State Bank of India (SBI) has refused to provide information regarding the legal fees paid to advocate Harish Salve for representing the bank in the electoral bonds case. Responding to an RTI query filed by activist Ajay Bose, SBI said the details sought are exempted from being made public under the RTI Act. Ajay Bose contested that fees paid to the advocate was taxpayers money and questioned why SBI was hiding this information.

According to the State Bank of India, the details sought by the RTI activist are third party information held by the bank in fiduciary capacity and of commercially confident in nature. 

“The information sought by you is third party personal information held by the Bank in fiduciary capacity, disclosure of which is exempted under Section 8(1) (e) & (j) and the same is also of commercial confidence in nature, hence denied as it is exempted under section 8 (1) (d) of the RTI Act,” it said.

The sections allow details to be provided if the competent authority is satisfied that the larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information. 

When the Supreme Court deemed electoral bonds as unconstitutional and arbitrary, it came down heavily on the State Bank of India’s attitude towards disclosing information. “The bank cannot be selective in disclosing all details. Do not wait for the orders of this court. SBI's attitude seems to be ‘You tell us what to disclose, we will disclose’. That does not seem to be fair,” the court had observed.

Read: Electoral bonds case: SC asks SBI to disclose all details by March 21

Before it was struck down, electoral bonds were paper instruments that anyone could buy from the State Bank of India and give to a political party, which could redeem them at SBI branches. The scheme enabled political parties to get away without making any significant disclosure to the Election Commission, using the argument that the bonds were anonymous.

Related Stories

No stories found.
The News Minute