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Gabon asks Ivory Coast for help to lift AU sanctions

Gabon was suspended from the African Union on August 31 after Nguema overthrew president Ali Bongo, whose family had been in power for 55 years…reports Asian Lite News

Gabon’s transitional president on Thursday asked his Ivory Coast counterpart for help in getting African Union sanctions lifted, during a meeting in Abidjan.

General Brice Oligui Nguema, who came to power in a coup last August, met Ivory Coast’s President Alassane Ouattara during a visit to the country for “work and friendship” from Thursday to Saturday.

“I am asking for the support of my elder here to plead in favor of lifting of the African Union sanctions against Gabon, and I know I can count on you,” the general said, addressing the Ivorian president.

Gabon was suspended from the African Union on August 31 after Nguema overthrew president Ali Bongo, whose family had been in power for 55 years.

He pledged to hand back the oil-rich central African country to civilian rule after a two-year transitional period.

The Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), which had also suspended Gabon over the coup, reinstated it in March.

Thursday’s meeting came after Gabon earlier this month launched a national dialogue intended to pave the way for elections in 2025.

In a joint statement to the press, the general said that he had given Ouattara an “update and report” on the “progress of the current dialogue in Libreville.”

He also thanked Ouattara for his “involvement” and “constant willingness to support and accompany the transition process on Gabonese soil.”

For his part, Ouattara told reporters that the meeting led to “fruitful exchanges.”

Ouattara praised Nguema for “the efforts you are making to return to constitutional normality” and for convening an “inclusive national dialogue.”

Gabon’s transitional president also plans to hold talks with the Gabonese diaspora during his visit.

ALSO READ: AU appoints special envoy to combat genocide in Africa

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Crime India News Legal

SC dismisses voter breathalyser test plea

Judges deemed the plea as more of a publicity stunt than a genuine legal concern…reports Asian Lite News

The Supreme Court recently rejected a plea advocating for breathalyser tests of voters queued at polling booths during elections. The petition, presented by the Andhra Pradesh unit of the Janavahini Party, argued that voters should not be permitted to cast their ballots under the influence of alcohol, especially given the imposition of the model code of conduct.

However, Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta deemed the plea as more of a publicity stunt than a genuine legal concern, echoing the Andhra Pradesh High Court’s earlier decision to dismiss the petition.

The bench expressed skepticism towards the petition’s motives, asserting that the demand for breathalyser tests appeared to be aimed at garnering attention rather than addressing a substantial issue.

They pointed out the existing measures on polling days, such as the enforcement of dry laws and the deployment of police personnel across voting precincts, as sufficient deterrents against alcohol-related interference in the voting process.

Initially filed in the high court, the plea failed to convince the judiciary of its legal merits. The court noted the absence of specific legal provisions obligating the Election Commission of India to implement breathalyser tests at polling booths.

The Janavahini Party’s representation, issued on January 6, urged the Election Commission to adopt such measures to ensure that only sober voters exercised their franchise. However, the high court found this representation lacking in legal grounds.

The Janavahini Party persisted in challenging the Election Commission’s inaction, seeking a court order mandating the deployment of breathalyser devices at polling booth entrances. Their objective was to restrict voting rights to individuals unaffected by alcohol consumption, thereby safeguarding the integrity of the electoral process

 Despite their efforts, both the high court and the Supreme Court ultimately dismissed the plea, underscoring the absence of legal mandates compelling such measures and considering the existing election day protocols as adequate safeguards against alcohol-related disruptions.

‘No anonymous political hoardings’

 The Election Commission of India (ECI) has cracked down on anonymous political hoardings while issuing directions for disclosure of publishers and printers on them for traceability and accountability.

The ECI on Wednesday directed all states and Union Territories to make it mandatory for all parties to clearly publish the identification of the printer and publisher on printed election-related material.

According to the ECI, the directions will be implemented on all political hoardings, ensuring accountability and transparency in the campaign communications.

The decision was taken by the Commission consisting of Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar, and Election Commissioners Gyanesh Kumar and Sukhbir Singh Sandhu after representations were received in the poll panel stating that in advertising spaces controlled by Municipal authorities, hoardings without the identity of the printer or publisher had been noticed.

The poll panel said that the Representation of the People Act, 1951, unequivocally prohibits the printing or publishing of election pamphlets, posters, placards, or banners without prominently displaying the name and address of the printer and publisher.

This requirement of disclosing the identity of publishers serves as a cornerstone for regulating campaign financing and fixing of responsibility in case content is found unbecoming of the framework of Model Code of Conduct or the statutory provisions, the ECI official added.

It may be recalled that CEC Rajiv Kumar highlighted addressing the issue of misinformation as one of the challenges, along with money and muscle power, for a level playing field.

With this directive, the Commission now has put the accountability on printers, publishers, licensees, contractors of Urban Local Bodies renting out outdoor advertising space for political advertisements published on outdoor media.

This is in continuation of the ECI’s recent advisory vide press note dated 02.04.2024 to editors of all newspapers to be cautious while publishing political advertisements in newspapers.

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-Top News Legal USA

New York City introduces $15 congestion toll

The decision was made by the board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), with an 11-1 vote in favor of imposing the toll….reports Asian Lite News

Traveling in New York City is already expensive, but commuters are facing an additional financial burden with the approval of a controversial $15 toll. The toll, set to take effect in mid-June, targets motorists entering the busiest parts of Manhattan, aiming to encourage the use of public transportation and alleviate traffic congestion, ultimately reducing pollution levels.

The decision was made by the board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), with an 11-1 vote in favor of imposing the toll. If implemented, this toll will mark a significant milestone, being the first of its kind in any American city. Similar toll schemes have been successfully implemented in cities like London, Stockholm, and Singapore.

However, before the toll can be implemented, it requires federal approval, and infrastructure for toll collection needs to be established. Under the proposed toll structure, passenger and small commercial vehicles entering Manhattan below 60th Street from Queens, Brooklyn, and neighboring New Jersey will be charged $15 during the day and $3.75 at night.

Trucks and sightseeing buses will face higher fees ranging from $24 to $36 during the day and lower fees at night. Additionally, taxis and rideshare apps like Uber will be authorized to charge passengers $1.25 and $2.50 per trip, respectively, into the congestion zone.

Despite the MTA’s readiness for implementation, criticism of the toll is mounting, especially from commuters already burdened with high travel costs. Several lawsuits have been initiated in opposition to the toll. Nevertheless, the MTA remains determined, with plans to utilize the revenue generated to enhance subway stations, modernize signals, and expand transit systems, aiming to combat congestion while investing in public transportation infrastructure.

ALSO READ: Biden okays $60mn in aid after Baltimore bridge disaster

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-Top News Legal USA

US Takes On Apple In Monopoly Lawsuit

The 88-page suit was filed on Thursday in a New Jersey federal court with 16 state and district attorneys general joining the Department of Justice….reports Asian Lite News

The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed a civil antitrust lawsuit against the tech giant Apple, accusing the company of “stifling” competition to boost its revenues and “illegally monopolising” the US smartphone market, Al Jazeera reported.

The 88-page suit was filed on Thursday in a New Jersey federal court with 16 state and district attorneys general joining the Department of Justice.

At issue is Apple’s most popular product, the iPhone, which is the linchpin of the company’s USD 2.7 trillion valuation. With more than a billion users, Apple has manipulated its share of the market to undermine competitors’ products and advantage its own, according to the DOJ.

Instead of competing with rivals by offering more affordable services, federal and state authorities allege that Apple imposed “a series of shapeshifting rules and restrictions” to “extract higher fees, thwart innovation, offer a less secure or degraded user experience, and throttle competitive alternatives.”

“Consumers should not have to pay higher prices because companies violate the antitrust laws,” US Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement. “If left unchallenged, Apple will only continue to strengthen its smartphone monopoly.”

Notably, the suit marks the most ambitious antitrust effort by the Biden administration so far, which has promised to roll back corporate consolidation in sectors such as technology that critics say have made it all but impossible for smaller rivals to compete, as reported by Al Jazeera.

The Biden administration’s antitrust push has already taken aim at corporate behemoths such as Google and Amazon, alongside unsuccessful bids to block acquisition deals by Microsoft and Facebook parent Meta Platforms.

Meanwhile, Apple has disputed that characterization and said that it would “vigorously” defend itself against the suit, which it called “wrong on the facts and the law”.

The California-based company has faced growing scrutiny from anti-monopoly enforcement bodies in Europe, Japan and South Korea.

Apple, a company with annual revenues of about USD 400 billion, has long promoted the strict integration between its products and software, an approach sometimes referred to as a “walled garden”.

The company argues that this helps give users a more seamless experience, but the DOJ said on Thursday that the corporation has achieved its gargantuan status in part by flouting antitrust laws.

“For years, Apple responded to competitive threats by imposing a series of ‘Whac-A-Mole’ contractual rules and restrictions that have allowed Apple to extract higher prices from consumers, impose higher fees on developers and creators, and to throttle competitive alternatives from rival technologies,” Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division said in a press release.

“Today’s lawsuit seeks to hold Apple accountable and ensure it cannot deploy the same, unlawful playbook in other vital markets,” he added.

Following the development, Apple’s stock price fell by little over 3 per cent, Al Jazeera reported. (ANI)

ALS READ: Biden roasts Trump

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-Top News Legal USA

Prosecutors open to delaying Trump’s hush-money trial  

The hush-money case is one of four criminal indictments against Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee….reports Asian Lite News

New York prosecutors said Thursday they are open to delaying the start of Donald Trump’s hush-money criminal trial by a month “in an abundance of caution” to give the former president’s lawyers time to review evidence they only recently obtained from a previous federal investigation into the matter.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office said in a court filing that it does not oppose adjourning the trial for 30 days but would fight the defense’s push for a longer delay. Judge Juan Manuel Merchan did not immediately rule.

Jury selection is scheduled for March 25. The hush-money case is one of four criminal indictments against Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

Trump’s legal team said it has received tens of thousands of pages of evidence from the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan in the last two weeks, including records about former Trump lawyer-turned-prosecution witness Michael Cohen that are “exculpatory and favorable to the defense.” Prosecutors said most of the newly turned over material is “largely irrelevant to the subject matter of this case,” though some records are pertinent.

Trump’s lawyers want a 90-day delay, but they’ve also asked Merchan to dismiss the case entirely, alleging the last-minute disclosures amounted to prosecutorial misconduct and violated rules governing the sharing of evidence. That process, called discovery, is routine in criminal cases and is intended to help ensure a fair trial.

Prosecutors contend Trump’s lawyers caused the problem by waiting until Jan. 18 to subpoena the U.S. attorney’s office for the full case file — a mere nine weeks before the scheduled start of jury selection.

District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office said it requested the full file last year, but the U.S. attorney’s office only turned over a subset of records. Trump’s lawyers received that material last June and had ample time to seek additional evidence from the federal probe, the D.A.’s office said.

Short trial delays because of issues with evidence aren’t unusual, but any delay in a case involving Trump would be significant, with trial dates in his other criminal cases up in the air and Election Day less than eight months away.

The defense has also sought to delay the trial until after the Supreme Court rules on Trump’s presidential immunity claims, which his lawyers say could apply to some of the allegations and evidence in the hush-money case. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments April 25.

ALSO READ: Biden opposes plan to sell US Steel to Japanese firm

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India News Legal Politics

Complied With SC Direction on Electoral Bonds Data, Says SBI

A total number of 22,217 bonds were purchased during the period April 1, 2019 till February 15, 2024, SBI told the Supreme Court….reports Asian Lite News

The Chairman of State Bank of India (SBI) has filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court apprising that in compliance with the top court’s order, date of purchase of each Electoral Bond, the name of the purchaser and the denomination of the

Electoral Bond purchased has been furnished to the Election Commission of India.

Dinesh Kumar Khara, Chairman of SBI, in the affidavit told the top court that the bank has also furnished the detail to Election Commission regarding the date of encashment of the Electoral Bonds, the name of political parties who have received the contributions and the denomination of the said bonds.

SBI said that the data has been furnished in respect of bonds purchased and redeemed between April 12, 2019 to February 15, 2024.

A total number of 22,217 bonds were purchased during the period April 1, 2019 till February 15, 2024, SBI told the Supreme Court.

“From April 1 to 11, 2019 total number of Electoral Bonds purchased were 3346 and total number of bonds redeemed were 1609,” affidavit stated.

SBI further told the apex court that from April 12, 2019 to February 15, 2024 total number of Electoral Bonds purchased 18,871 and total number of bonds redeemed were 20,421.

The affidavit was filed in compliance of the top court’s direction to the bank to furnish the data of Electoral Bonds to poll panel by March 12.

The Constitution bench of the top court also warned the SBI of contempt of court against it for wilfully disobeying its order in the event of non-compliance with the latest directions.

On Monday the top court dismissed an application of SBI seeking extension of time till June 30 to submit details of Electoral Bonds to Election Commission of India and asked the bank to disclose the details by March 12.

The apex court had also directed that Election Commission of India to compile the information to be furnished by the SBI and publish the details on its official website no later than by March 15, 2024, 5 pm.

In its February 15 judgement, the apex court had set the deadline for SBI as March 6. The apex court had said that by March 13, the ECI shall publish the details of Electoral Bonds on its official website.

The Supreme Court by its February verdict had struck down the Electoral Bonds Scheme which allowed for anonymous funding to political parties, and ordered the SBI to stop issuing Electoral Bonds immediately.

A five-judge Constitution bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justices Sanjiv Khanna, BR Gavai, JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra had unanimously quashed the Electoral Bonds scheme as well as amendments made to the Income Tax Act and the Representation of People Act which had made the donations anonymous.

It had asked SBI to furnish details and the details about each Electoral Bonds encashed by the political parties, which shall include the date of encashment and the denomination of electoral bond.

An Electoral Bond is an instrument in the nature of a promissory note or bearer bond which can be purchased by any individual, company, firm or association of persons provided the person or body is a citizen of India or incorporated or established in India. The bonds are issued specifically for the purpose of contribution of funds to political parties.

Various petitions were filed before the top court challenging amendments made to different statutes through Finance Act 2017 and Finance Act 2016 on the ground that they have opened doors to unlimited, unchecked funding of political parties. (ANI)

SC to Hear Pleas Against Election Commissioners’ Act

The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to list for hearing on March 15 pleas challenging the Chief Election Commissioner and Other Election Commissioners Act, 2023, which dropped the Chief Justice of India from the selection panel of Election Commissioners.

A bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna, MM Sundresh and Bela M Trivedi said the matter will be listed for hearing on Friday after advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the NGO Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), sought an urgent hearing.

The bench said that it had received a message from CJI DY Chandrachud and would list the plea for hearing this Friday.

“I just got the message from the Chief Justice, the matters are listed for Friday,” Justice Khanna told advocate Bhushan.

The petitions were moved by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and Jaya Thakur (General Secretary of the Madhya Pradesh Mahila Congress Committee), Sanjay Narayanrao Meshram, Dharmendra Singh Kushwaha, and advocate Gopal Singh.

Earlier, the apex court had refused to stay the operation of the Election Commissioner Act, 2023, issued notice to the Centre and sought a response in April.

The pleas challenged the new election commissioners’ law that has dropped the Chief Justice of India from the selection panel for appointing Chief Election Commissioners (CEC) and other Election Commissioners (ECs).

The petitions stated that the provisions of the enactment are violative of the principle of free and fair elections since they do not provide an “independent mechanism” for the appointment of members of the Election Commission of India (ECI).

The petitions said the Act excludes the Chief Justice of India from the process of appointment of the members of the ECI and it’s in violation of the March 2023 verdict of the top court, which had ordered that the appointment of members of the ECI be done on the advice of a committee comprising the Prime Minister, the CJI and the Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha until a law is made by the Parliament.

By excluding the CJI from the process, the judgement of the Supreme Court stands diluted, as the Prime Minister and his nominee will always be “the deciding factor” in the appointments, said the petitions.

The petitions in particular challenged Sections 7 and 8 of the Chief Election Commissioner and Other Election Commissioners (Appointment, Conditions of Service and Term of Office) Act, 2023. The provisions lay down the procedure for the appointment of ECI members.

They sought direction from the Centre to include the Chief Justice of India in the selection committee for the appointment of the CEC and ECs, which currently consist of the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha and a Union Cabinet Minister nominated by the Prime Minister.

Earlier, on December 28, the President gave assent to the Chief Election Commissioner and Other Election Commissioners (Appointment, Conditions of Service and Term of Office) Bill 2023.

Notably, on December 21, the Lok Sabha passed the bill to regulate the appointment and service terms of the CEC and ECs.

The Supreme Court, on March 2, 2023, in response to a writ petition, directed that the appointment of CEC and ECs shall be made by the President based on the advice tendered by a committee consisting of the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha or leader of the largest opposition party in the House and the Chief Justice of India.

The Act replaced the Election Commission (Conditions of Service of Election Commissioners and Transaction of Business) Act, 1991. (ANI)

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Jammu Kashmir National Front Banned For 5 Years Under UAPA

The Ministry said that the members of the JKNF have remained involved in supporting terrorist activities…reports Asian Lite News

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Tuesday banned the Jammu Kashmir National Front (JKNF) by declaring it as an ‘unlawful association’ with immediate effect under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for five years.

The Ministry announced a notification pointing that the JKNF, chaired by Nayeem Ahmad Khan, is indulging in “unlawful activities, which are prejudicial to the integrity, sovereignty, and security of the country.”

The Ministry said that the members of the JKNF have remained involved in supporting terrorist activities and anti-India propaganda for fuelling secessionism in Jammu and Kashmir and providing logistic support to terrorists in the Union Territory.

“The leaders and members of the JKNF have been involved in mobilising violent protesters in

various parts of Kashmir for perpetrating unlawful activities, including supporting terrorist activities, sustained stone-pelting on Security Forces in Jammu and Kashmir,” reads the MHA notification.

It also said that the JKNF has constantly asked the people of Kashmir to refrain from taking part in elections and thereby targeted and hampered the very basic constitutionally recognized fundamentals of Indian democracy.

“The JKNF and its members by their activities show sheer disrespect towards the constitutional authority and constitutional set-up of the country. The JKNF is involved in promoting, aiding and abetting secession of Jammu and Kashmir from India by involving in anti-national and subversive activities; sowing seeds of disaffection amongst people; exhorting people to destabilise law and order; encouraging the use of arms to separate Jammu and Kashmir from the Union of India; promoting hatred against established Government and giving clarion call to boycott elections on multiple occasions in the union territory,” mentioned the notification.

It clarified further “The Central Government thinks that if there is no immediate curb or control of unlawful activities of the JKNF, it will use this opportunity to continue with the anti-national activities which are detrimental to the territorial integrity, security and sovereignty of the country, and, will continue advocating the secession of Jammu and Kashmir from the Union of India while disputing its accession to the same.”

“JKNF will continue propagating false narratives and anti-national sentiments among the people of Jammu and Kashmir to cause disaffection against India and disrupt public order,” the notification added.

“…Now, therefore, in the exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (1) of section 3 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (37 of 1967), the Central Government hereby declares the JKNF as an unlawful association. The Central Government, having regard to the above circumstances, is of firm opinion that it is necessary to declare the JKNF as an ‘unlawful association’ with immediate effect,” the notification stated.

“Central Government hereby directs that this notification shall, subject to any order that may be made under section 4 of the said Act, have effect for five years from the date of its publication in the Official Gazette,” mentioned the notification. (ANI)

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India News Kerala Legal

SC Urges Centre to Ease Borrowing Conditions to Kerala

The court remarked to the Centre that they can be slightly liberal, give a one-time package as a special case and apply more rigid conditions in future budgets….reports Asian Lite News

The Supreme Court on Tuesday suggested the Centre to be liberal and give a one-time package as a special case to Kerala, subject to harsher conditions than other states.

A bench of justices Surya Kant and KV Viswanathan’s suggestions came while dealing with the matter relating to Kerala’s plea against Centre over financial matters.

The court remarked to the Centre that they can be slightly liberal, give a one-time package as a special case and apply more rigid conditions in future budgets.

The court also suggested giving the special package to Kerala by March 31 subject to harsher conditions than other States. For the existing States you will be liberal next time, the court remarked

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal mentioned Kerala’s suit the matter before the Supreme Court on Tuesday and apprised the court that Centre is not releasing any money to the tune of 19000 crore.

The court suggested the Centre and Kerala to try and work out.

The court said that it will hear the matter tomorrow.

Earlier the Supreme Court had directed the Kerala Govt to hold a meeting with Centre and state officials to resolve the financial issues arising between them.

Earlier in its affidavit, the Kerala Government said that the Central Government accounts for approximately 60 per cent of the total debt or outstanding liabilities of India.

In an affidavit, the Kerala Government said that the Centre can’t control the debt of state and the justification put forth by the Union Government to control the borrowings of the Kerala State are fallacious, exaggerated and unjustified.

Responding to the notes filed by the Attorney General, Kerala Government made submission and said, “The Central Government accounts for approximately 60 per cent of the total debt or outstanding liabilities of India. All the states put together account for the rest (approximately) 40 per cent of the total debt of the country. In fact, the Plaintiff State accounts for a miniscule 1.70-1.75 per cent of the total debt of the Centre and the States put together for the period 2019-2023.”

Kerala’s financial health and debt situation have attracted adverse observations from successive Finance Commissions (12th, 14th and 15th) as well as the CAG and it is one of the most financially unhealthy states as its fiscal edifice has been diagnosed with several cracks, Attorney General said in a note submitted before the Supreme Court.

Responding to Kerala’s government suit, the Centre in its affidavit, apprised the Supreme Court that Kerala has been one of the most financially unhealthy states, and its fiscal edifice of Kerala has been diagnosed with several cracks.

The Attorney General for India has filed a written note in the suit filed by Kerala Government where he said that debt of states affects the credit rating of the country.

The note was filed in response to the Kerala Government petition against Centre’s alleged interference in states’ finances and said that due to such interference the state is not able to fulfil the commitments in its annual budgets.

In a suit filed by Kerala government, it stated that state government deals with the executive power conferred on the Plaintiff State under Article 293 of the Constitution of India to borrow on the security or guarantee of the Consolidated Fund of the State in alignment with the fiscal autonomy of the Plaintiff State as guaranteed and enshrined in the Constitution.

Kerala Government, through its petition, said Centre through the Ministry of Finance (Public Finance-State Division), Department of Expenditure letters dated March 2023 & August 2023 and by amendments made to Section 4 of the Fiscal Responsibility and

Budget Management Act, of 2003 sought to interfere with the finances of the state by imposing a net borrowing ceiling on the State.

The Kerala government said that such interference with the finances of the state was caused by imposing a net borrowing ceiling on the plaintiff state in the manner deemed fit by the defendant union, which limits borrowings from all sources, including open market borrowings. (ANI)

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India News Legal Politics

SBI Submits Data on Electoral Bonds to EC

In its February 15 judgement, the apex court had set the deadline for SBI as March 6, however, the SBI last week moved the top court seeking an extension till June 30 to comply with the court’s directions….reports Asian Lite News

Complying with the Supreme Court’s directions, the State Bank of India supplied the data on electoral bonds to the Election Commission of India, the poll body said on Tuesday.

In a post on X, the Election Commission of India said, “In compliance with the Supreme Court’s directions to the SBI, contained in its order dated Feb 15 and March 11, 2024 (in the matter of WPC NO.880 of 2017), data on electoral bonds has been supplied by State Bank of India to Election Commission of India, today, March 12, 2024.”

Earlier a five-judge Constitution bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justices Sanjiv Khanna, BR Gavai, JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra ordered that the details be disclosed by the bank on March 12.

In its February 15 judgement, the apex court had set the deadline for SBI as March 6, however, the SBI last week moved the top court seeking an extension till June 30 to comply with the court’s directions.

Passing the order on SBI’s application today, the bench ordered, “Submissions of SBI in the application indicates that information sought is readily available. Thus, the application by SBI seeking an extension of time until June 30 is dismissed. SBI is directed to disclose the details by the close of business hours of March 12, 2024.”

The Constitution bench also warned the SBI of contempt of court against it for wilfully disobeying its order in the event of non-compliance with the latest directions.

The Supreme Court had struck down the Electoral Bonds Scheme which allowed for anonymous funding to political parties, and ordered the SBI to stop issuing Electoral Bonds immediately.

SCBA Seeks Presidential Reference

Senior advocate and Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) President Adish C. Aggarwala on Tuesday urged President Droupadi Murmu to seek a presidential reference of the Constitution Bench judgement in the Electoral Bonds case.

In his letter written on the letterhead of the All India Bar Association, Aggarwala said that revealing the names of corporates would render them vulnerable to victimisation by those parties which had received less contribution from them and would have a chilling effect on corporate donations and participation in the democratic process.

“Besides drying up further donations, such an act (of disclosing names of corporates and their quantum of contributions to various parties) would discourage and dissuade foreign corporate entities from setting shops in India or participating in the democratic process but contributing to winning horses,” he said in the letter to President Murmu.

It added that if the Constitution Bench judgment is enforced by retrospectively releasing all sensitive information, the same will “shatter the reputation the nation enjoys in the international arena”.

“I, therefore, request your good self to withhold the enforcement of the Hon’ble Supreme Court judgment in the Electoral Bonds case by seeking a Presidential Reference on the matter. Till the Reference is heard and answered, the Hon’ble Supreme Court shall not give effect to its verdict of March 11, 2024,” he said in the letter.

Article 143 of the Constitution confers advisory jurisdiction on the Supreme Court and provides for the power of the President to consult the apex court on a question of law or fact of public importance.

On Monday, a Constitution Bench, headed by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud, ordered the State Bank of India (SBI) to disclose the information on encashed Electoral Bonds to the Election Commission by Tuesday.

“As regards, the Election Commission of India, we direct that the ECI shall compile the information and publish the details on its official website no later than by 5 pm on 15 March 2024,” ordered the 5-judge Bench, also comprising Justices Sanjiv Khanna, B.R. Gavai, J.B. Padriwala and Manoj Misra. (ANI/IANS)

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ADR Moves Contempt Plea On Electoral Bond Case

Advocate Prashant Bhushan for ADR mentioned the plea before a SC bench and apprised the top court that SBI has filed an application for extension which will be listed on Monday….reports Asian Lite News

The Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) has moved a contempt petition in the Supreme Court against the State Bank of India for not complying with the top court direction to disclose details of electoral bonds to the Election Commission.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan for ADR mentioned the plea before a bench led by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and apprised the top court that State Bank of India has filed an application for extension which will be listed on Monday.

Advocate Bhushan urged the top court to list ADR’s plea along with SBI’s application. CJI asked advocate Bhushan to complete the pre-listing formalities and then they will consider listing it.

On March 15, the Constitution bench of the Supreme Court asked the SBI to furnish details of the political parties that received Electoral Bonds since April 12, 2019, and all the particulars received and submit them to the Election Commission of India by March 6. This has come when the top court held Electoral Bonds scheme is violative of Article 19(1)(a) and unconstitutional and struck down Electoral Bonds scheme.

As the State Bank of India (SBI) missed the deadline to submit the details, it has moved the Supreme Court seeking an extension of time till June 30 to submit details of Electoral Bonds to the Election Commission of India. SBI in its application said that it needs extra time to disclose details of electoral bonds encashed by political parties.

Now ADR has sought to initiate the contempt proceedings against SBI for not complying the court order and said that it has wilfully and deliberately disobeyed the judgment passed by the Constitution Bench of the top court, and the same not only negates the right to information of the citizens, but also wilfully undermines the authority of the apex court.

ADR, one of the petitioners in the matter, said that two days before the expiry of the stated deadline for State Bank of India (SBI) for submitting information concerning electoral bonds to the Election Commission of India, SBI has filed the application, which is mala fide and demonstrates a wilful and deliberate disobedience & defiance of the judgement passed by the Constitution Bench of the top court. The contempt plea also stated that it is a clear attempt to undermine the authority of the apex court.

ADR submitted that the State Bank of India has deliberately filed the said application at the last moment in order to ensure that the details of donor and the amount of donations are not disclosed to the public before the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. “The said application neither discloses the progress made so far & steps taken to comply with the judgment dated February 15, 2024, nor it shows even part- compliance of the judgment passed by this Court,” ADR said.

SC to hear SBI plea

The Supreme Court will hear a State Bank of India (SBI) plea on March 11 seeking an extension of time until June 30 to submit details of electoral bonds to the Election Commission of India.

A five-judge Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud will hear the matter on March 11. The Constitution Bench will also hear the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) contempt petition on that day too.

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