Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Foreign donations to Congress, BJP matter of public interest-Allahabad HC

The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court on Monday said that foreign funding of Congress, BJP and other political parties is a matter of public interest. The court converted the petition on foreign funding into public interest litigation (PIL) and has directed to list the matter on November 20 for hearing by the PIL bench.

The order came on a petition filed by social activist and member ofAam Aadmi Party (AAP) Nutan Thakur. Terming the decision of the Union home ministry to probe into the complaints of anomalies in foreign contribution to AAP as one-sided, the petition demanded probe into the foreign donations received by Congress, BJP and other political parties.

After hearing the petition, a division bench, comprising Justice Devi Prasad Singh and Justice Ashok Pal Singh, said that this matter does not only relate to the petitioner but has a wider public realm and is hence a PIL. Thakur said that on October 26, 2012, when she was not a member of AAP, she had lodged a complaint with the Union home ministry on the alleged violation of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 2010 (FCRA) by Congress and BJP. Both parties had received donations of about Rs 5 crore each from Vedanta Group subsidiaries — Sterlite Industries and Sesa Goa. She sent a reminder on June 5. However, no action has been taken so far.

Thakur said that her complaint was based on newspaper articles published on October 17, 2012. She said the Election Commission had also asked the central government to probe the matter. But since no action has been taken, Thakur said, she decided to approach the high court to seek a probe into foreign funding of all political parties, including Congress and BJP. The petition also states that the AAP has welcomed the inquiry on its funding ordered by the UPA government. However, it adds, Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde has made the announcement at a time when Delhi assembly elections are under way, which raises suspicion.

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