For­eign funds: Why no ac­tion against BJP & Congress asks Delhi HC

The party in power tar­gets only the hon­est tax pay­ers and adopts dual stan­dards when it comes to its own fund­ing.

Alive - - News - by San­jeev Sirohi

Com­ing straight to the nub of the mat­ter, let me be­gin by first and fore­most ex­press­ing my heart­burn at the cal­lous man­ner in which po­lit­i­cal par­ties have full lib­erty to ac­cept for­eign funds. Why should for­eign fund­ing not be banned com­pletely? Why should po­lit­i­cal par­ties have the priv­i­lege to ac­cept for­eign fund­ing?

This was ex­actly what the Delhi High Court on 20 July 2017 asked why the Cen­tre has not acted against the Congress and the BJP (the party rul­ing at the Cen­tre and a large num­ber of states) for ac­cept­ing for­eign fund­ing in vi­o­la­tion of the law de­spite a 2014 court di­rec­tive.

What is there that Cen­tre wants to hide? Why can’t it (ac­cept­ing for­eign fund­ing) be fully trans­par­ent if it has got noth­ing to hide? Why Cen­tre is dilly-dal­ly­ing on such a vi­tal is­sue?

Then, Jus­tice AK Chawla had given six weeks time to the Min­istry of Home Af­fairs (MHA) to file com­pli­ance re­port in its 2014 judg­ment. But the MHA did noth­ing. Six weeks time is more than enough to file com­pli­ance re­port. The MHA must file com­pli­ance re­port within the given time limit on its 2014 judg­ment.

The 2014 judg­ment had found both par­ties (Congress and BJP) flout­ing the norms of the For­eign Con­tri­bu­tion (Reg­u­la­tion) Act (FCRA) by ac­cept­ing do­na­tions from for­eign funds from In­dian sub­sidiaries of UK-based Vedanta Re­sources. Why is PM Naren­dra Modi silent on this?

Why when PM Modi says that he will make sure that peo­ple give de­tails of each and ev­ery pie of their in­come is he main­tain­ing a deaf­en­ing si­lence on this key is­sue in which his own party as also the Op­po­si­tion party is found in­volved? Why did he not act in time so that Delhi High Court was not con­strained to ask as to why no ac­tion was taken against BJP and Congress?

The Delhi High Court was hear­ing a con­tempt plea filed by NGO As­so­ci­a­tion for Demo­cratic Re­forms (ADR) al­leg­ing non-ac­tion of the gov­ern­ment against the po­lit­i­cal par­ties. Why non­ac­tion on part of the gov­ern­ment against the po­lit­i­cal par­ties?

Why only com­mon peo­ple were made to suf­fer be­cause of note-bandi and big busi­ness ty­coons like Vi­jay Mallya were al­lowed to flee In­dia af­ter tak­ing a huge loan of more than Rs 9000 crore and live a lux­u­ri­ous life in Eng­land?

Need­less to say, Jus­tice AK Chawla ob­served an­grily that de­lay in im­ple­ment­ing the court or­der was “un­jus­ti­fied”. It must be brought out here that the coun­sel ap­pear­ing for the MHA told the Delhi High Court that the records were 40 years old and it would take time to go through them. Coun­sel also stated that no­tice has been is­sued to both par­ties to file doc­u­ments.

On 28 March 2014, the Delhi High Court had or­dered the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion (EC) and the Home Min­istry to look into the ac­counts of the Congress and BJP for traces of for­eign funds and take ac­tion within six months. Still we see no ac­tion be­ing taken against ei­ther the BJP or the Congress! Why? This is ex­actly what the Delhi High Court wants to know!

Be it noted, Sec­tion 4 of the For­eign Con­tri­bu­tion (Reg­u­la­tion) (FCR) Act pro­hibits a po­lit­i­cal party or leg­is­la­tor from ac­cept­ing for­eign con­tri­bu­tions. Ad­vo­cate Pranav Sachdeva while ap­pear­ing for ADR had told the Delhi High Court that even af­ter the lapse of three years of the Delhi High Court or­der, the gov­ern­ment had not taken any ac­tion. Why? Has it got some­thing to hide? If not then why no ac­tion was taken by gov­ern­ment? “Since there has been will­ful dis­obe­di­ence on the part of the re­spon­dent (gov­ern­ment) in com­pli­ance with the im­pugned or­der, re­spon­dent is li­able for con­tempt of the court and con­tempt pro­ceed­ings should be ini­ti­ated against the re­spon­dent,” said the plea in its ear­lier hear­ing. Very rightly said! There can be no deny­ing or dis­put­ing it!

No­tice by High Court

Jus­tice Man­mo­han had is­sued a show cause no­tice to the Union Home Sec­re­tary on the con­tempt plea filed by NGO, As­so­ci­a­tion for Demo­cratic Re­forms (ADR). The Delhi High Court held that UK-based Vedanta Re­sources is a for­eign com­pany within the mean­ing of the Com­pa­nies Act, 1956, and there­fore, the firm and its sub­sidiaries – Ster­lite In­dus­tries and Sesa Goa – are a for­eign source as con­tem­plated un­der the Act.

The Delhi High Court had also di­rected the Cen­tre to look into the do­na­tions made to po­lit­i­cal par­ties by not only Ster­lite and Sesa but other sim­i­larly si­t­u­ated com­pa­nies or cor­po­ra­tions.

It is no brainer to con­clude that Cen­tre should have acted very fast on this. But it has not taken any ac­tion till now. This alone ex­plains why the Delhi High Court was com­pelled to make a scathing ob­ser­va­tion on for­eign funds that, “Why no ac­tion against BJP and Congress?”

Why PM Naren­dra Modi and Fi­nance Min­is­ter Arun Ji­at­ley want trans­parency only from the peo­ple and are do­ing noth­ing on this by tak­ing strong ac­tion against both BJP and Congress? Just be­cause it hurts their own po­lit­i­cal vested in­ter­ests?

All said and done, both the PM Naren­dra Modi and Fi­nance Min­is­ter Arun Jait­ley must make their po­si­tion very clear on this and not be eva­sive at all on such a sen­si­tive is­sue. They must rise above nar­row po­lit­i­cal con­sid­er­a­tions and take ap­pro­pri­ate ac­tion against both BJP and Congress as the Delhi High Court has very rightly sought.

Only then will the war against cor­rup­tion be taken to its log­i­cal con­clu­sion. Also the po­lit­i­cal fund­ing must be made to­tally trans­par­ent and there should be no hid­ing as the for­mer Chief Elec­tion Com­mis­sioner (CEC) Naseem Zaidi who re­tired just re­cently had very rightly pointed out while ex­press­ing his dis­ap­proval at the re­cent changes made in po­lit­i­cal fund­ing by which the names of donors to par­ties are con­cealed.

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