The Times of India
New Delhi

NEW DELHI: Dow Chemical is the only firm categorized as a "foreign company" among those firms that donated money to political parties, the home ministry has informed the Delhi high court.

As per records cited by the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) in the HC, Dow paid a sum of Rs 1 lakh to the BJP during 2006-07.

ADR, in its PIL, has demanded action under provisions of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) against political parties and their foreign funding companies.

In an affidavit filed on Thursday in response to the PIL, the home ministry claimed that except Dow, other companies such as Vedanta subsidiary MALCO, Sterilite Industries and Adani Wilmar could not be said to be foreign firms since they were incorporated in India and 50% or more shares was held by an Indian citizen.

"The matter of receipt of political donations from foreign companies/foreign sources by political parties is under consideration of MHA and due action would be taken on the basis of examination and findings" the affidavit informed the HC, terming ADR's PIL as "pre-mature" which ought to be dismissed.

The MHA affidavit said it took inputs from the ministry of corporate affairs to ascertain status of companies listed in the accounts statements given by political parties to the Election Commission to determine if they fell within the ambit of "foreign company" under FCRA. The MCA concluded these firms didn't qualify as "foreign company".

The HC had in February sought a response from Congress and BJP on the plea accusing them of accepting donations from abroad in violation of various laws. It also sought views of the government on the PIL that also demanded direction for a CBI or SIT probe against them for allegedly accepting donations from firms including subsidiaries of Britain-based Vedanta Group.

When the Centre claimed it was investigating the complaint following the Election Commission's letter on the issue and a decision was yet to be taken, HC had asked the government to file an affidavit.

Appearing for ADR, advocate Prashant Bhushan alleged that various laws were violated by Congress and BJP by receiving funding from Vedanta Resources. He maintained the two political parties violated the Representation of People Act (RPA) and the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA). The petitioner also sought an order directing the Centre to "cancel the income tax exemption given to political parties and corporate groups for donations made in violation of the law of the land".

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