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Photo: Mint
Photo: Mint

Respond finally in 3 weeks on foreign funding case: SC to govt

The court gave the ultimatum after Prashant Bhushan said the govt was dragging its feet

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday gave three weeks to the government to give its written response in a case related to political parties violating foreign funding laws.

A bench comprising chief justice H. L. Dattu, justices Arun Mishra and Amitava Roy gave the government this ultimatum after lawyer Prashant Bhushan, representing Association for Democratic Reforms, said the government was dragging its feet.

“The union has a clear conflict of interest because it’s controlled by political parties. It has been 16 months since the Delhi high court judgment. No action has been taken," Bhushan said.

“Why haven’t you done it yet (submit written submissions) when you know Prashant Bhushan will oppose (any move seeking) additional time?" Dattu asked the government.

The Delhi high court, on 28 March 2014, found both the Indian National Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in violation of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act 1976 for accepting donations from Sterlite Industries India Ltd and Sesa Goa Ltd, subsidiaries of UK-based Vedanta Resources Plc.

The court asked the central government to “relook and reappraise the receipts of the political parties and...identify foreign contributions received by foreign sources...and would take action as contemplated by law."

The two political parties appealed this ruling of the Delhi high court before the Supreme Court.

Lawyer Kapil Sibal, representing Congress, sought time to file a response to ADR’s written submissions before the court.

ADR approached the Delhi high court in public interest in 2013 claiming that Congress and the BJP had violated FCRA. It also said the two parties were prohibited from taking donations from government companies or foreign sources under the Representation of the People Act, 1951.

ADR contended that by accepting donations from Sterlite and Sesa Goa, the Congress and the BJP accepted donations from a foreign source under Section 2(e)(vi) of the FCRA. This section says that any company which is owned by a company (with a stake of over 50%) incorporated outside India is a foreign source.

The political parties countered that the two companies were incorporated in India and said more than half the stake in Vedanta was held by Anil Agarwal, an Indian citizen.

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