SC notice on plea challenging foreign funding to political parties
New Delhi, July 3: The Supreme Court has issued notices to the Union Government among others on a plea that challenged the law which gave political parties immunity from being prosecuted for accepting foreign funding.
The petition challenging the law was filed by E A S Sharma, former Secretary, Government of India, and Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR). The petition challenges the amendments made with retrospective effect in the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 2010 through the Finance Act, 2016 and Finance Act, 2018, which was passed as a Money Bill.
These amendments were seen as an attempt to overturn the judgment passed by the Delhi High Court in March 2014 holding the two major political parties, BJP and Congress, guilty of accepting foreign funding. The Delhi High Court ordered the Central Government and Election Commission of India to take action against BJP and INC within six months.
These amendments to the FCRA law have opened doors to unlimited political donations from foreign companies and also legitimizing financial contributions received from foreign sources. The petition was necessitated due to the intransigence of the Central Government in complying with the Delhi HC order of March 2014 and instead trying to get BJP and INC off the hook by amending the FCRA 2010 in 2016 and subsequently the FCRA 1976 in March 2018.
Prof. Jagdeep Chhokar, Founder Member & Trustee, ADR said, "I hope that the Supreme Court will strike down the amendments introduced in FCRA 2010 by Section 236 of Finance Act, 2016 and by Section 217 of the Finance Act, 2018 as void, illegal and unconstitutional".