The Delhi high court on Friday 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.
The verdict came after the court found both parties flouting the norms of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCR) by accepting donations from UK-based Vedanta Resources and its subsidiary companies in India. Section 4 of the FCR Act prohibits a political party or legislator from accepting foreign contributions.
The court rejected the government’s contention that Vedanta’s two subsidiaries – Sterlite and Sesa – were incorporated in India under the Companies Act and their donations could not be construed as ‘foreign contribution”.
The Association for Democratic Reforms, the petitioner in the case, claimed that Vedanta donated nearly $2 million to political causes, either through a trust or directly, in respect to the Lok Sabha polls.
Reacting to the HC’s ruling, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief Arvind Kejriwal said, “Both BJP and Congress had been accusing AAP of foreign funding whereas actually both of them were guilty.”
The former Delhi CM was referring to the home ministry’s probe into the source of AAP’s foreign funding. The HC in October last year, had directed the ministry to check into AAP’s account after a PIL claimed it of receiving foreign funds. The case will be heard by HC on May 7.
The court has also ordered a probe into donations worth Rs. 1 lakh each made by two public sector undertakings: State Trading Corporation of India, and Metals and Minerals Corporation of India to National Students Union of India (NSUI) through the Indian National Congress (INC).
INC had told the court that the donations were actually made to the NSUI as part of a national campaign for the Centenary Celebration of Satyagaraha, which was sponsored by the PSUs. The INC argued that the donations were erroneously entered into its account.