Coming straight to the nub of the matter, let me begin at the beginning itself 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 liberty to accept foreign funding?
While craving for the exclusive indulgence of my esteemed readers, let me inform them that the Delhi High Court on July 20, 2017 asked why the Centre has not acted against the Congress and the BJP 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 be fully transparent if it has got nothing to hide? Why Centre is dilly-dallying on such a vital issue?
For my esteemed readers exclusive indulgence, let me also inform them that Justice AK Chawla gave six weeks time to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to file compliance report on its 2014 judgment. 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.
Truth be told, the 2014 judgment had found both parties 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 completely 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 against BJP and Congress?
To put things in perspective, 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 non-action on part of the government against the political parties? Why only people are made to suffer because of note-bandhi and big business tycoons like Vijay Mallya are 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. Counsel also said that notice has been issued to both parties to file documents.
Truly speaking, on March 28, 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 . 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 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!
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 needs no rocket scientist 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 wants transparency only from 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!
Sanjeev Sirohi, Advocate,
s/o Col BPS Sirohi,
A 82, Defence Enclave,
Sardhana Road, Kankerkhera,
Meerut – 250001, Uttar Pradesh.