Foreign Funding of Political Parties
BJP, Congress guilty of taking foreign funds: Delhi HC
Status and proceedings before Delhi Highcourt: In a landmark judgment, the Delhi High Court has held major National political parties BJP and Congress guilty of taking foreign funding and violating the provisions of FCRA and directed the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and Election Commission of India (ECI) to take action against the two parties within six months. The judgment was announced on a petition filed in public interest by Mr. EAS Sharma, Former Secy, Govt of India, and Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) in Delhi High Court in January 2013. The petitioners had asserted that there is a blatant violation of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 1976 FCRA) and Representation of People’s Act, 1951 by these two major National political parties.
It has been observed by the Court that these political parties have taken donations from Vedanta & its subsideries, registered in England and Wales, and its subsidiaries. The Bench also rejected the stand taken by Ministry of Home Affairs which said that FCRA has not been violated. The judgment drew attention to the donations made to INC and BJP for the period up to the year 2009.
Petitioners in the PIL
a) Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR)
b) Dr. EAS Sarma, former Secretary to the Government of India
Respondents in the PIL
Respondent no. 1: Union of India (UOI)
Respondent no 2: Election Commission of India (ECI)
Respondent no 3: Indian National Congress (INC)
Respondent no 4.: Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP)
HON'BLE MR. JUSTICE PRADEEP NANDRAJOG
HON'BLE MR. JUSTICE JAYANT NATH
Date of Judgment: 28th March, 2014
Total number of hearings
Grounds of the PIL
a) INC and the BJP have violated Section 29B of the Representation of People’s Act 1951, which categorically prohibits them to take donations from government companies and from any foreign source.
b) The donation of huge sums of money made by the Vedanta Group (being a foreign company) to major political parties like INC and BJP is in clear violation of the FCR Act of 1976 and the FCR Act of 2010.
c) The donation of huge sums of money by the public sector undertakings (who are also State within Article 12 of the Constitution) to the political parties is in violation of Section 293A of the Companies Act.
Current status: The court has directed the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and Election Commission of India (ECI) to take action against the two parties within six months
Status and proceeding before Supreme Court: As of now, Congress has filed a petition against this Delhi High Court Judgement in the Supreme Court of India. The matter came up for hearing in the Apex Court on 22nd of August, 2014 before the CJI Justice R.M Lodha. The Supreme Court has not granted any stay agaisnt the High Court's order. However, the Supreme Court has stated that before taking any such action against INC, they should be given a chance and intimated first. Matter will be heard again before the bench after a 9 weeks period.