Take action against Congress, BJP for FCRA violations: Election Commission asks MHA
New Delhi: At a time when the Union Home Ministry is taking strict actions against thousands of NGOs for violating Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), the Election Commission has asked the ministry to act against Congress and BJP, the two leading political parties of the country, for receiving foreign funds.
Both the parties receive donations from companies with majority foreign holdings and thus violating the rules laid down in FCRA.
The FCRA prohibits any financial contribution from any foreign source or company to a political party registered in India. However, a list prepared by the Home Ministry after an order from the Delhi High Court last year shows that both the parties received "foreign" donations.
While the Congress received 10 donations of more than Rs 13 crore between 2007 and 2011, BJP received five such donations amounting to Rs 1.62 crore.
The list was prepared after the Delhi High Court in March last year indicted both Congress and BJP and had asked the Centre and the EC to take appropriate action for receiving foreign funds in violation of FCRA guidelines.
The High Court directed the Home Ministry and the EC to “relook and reappraise the receipts of the political parties” to identify foreign donations and take action within six months.
The verdict was given on the PIL filed by NGO and E.A.S. Sarma, a former secretary in the central government, alleging that Indian laws had been violated by the Congress and the BJP by allegedly receiving funding from Britain-based Vedanta Resources.
The two parties breached the Representation of the People Act (RPA), 1951, and the FCRA, the PIL alleged. The RPA prohibits political parties from taking donations from government companies and from foreign sources, the PIL has said.
According to a report by Times of India, EC has written to the Home Ministry saying the RPA has no provision to act against foreign companies donating to parties. The EC asked the ministry to take "appropriate action" against them under FCRA in order to comply with the HC order.
The Home Ministry has submitted a list of 'foreign source' in response to the letter by the election watchdog giving details of all donations received by Congress and BJP from companies having foreign holding of more than 50 per cent.
The foreign companies in the list included Dow Chemicals Intl. Pvt Ltd with 100 per cent foreign holding; Apothecin Pharmaceuticals Pvt Ltd (87.97 per cent foreign holding) and Traspek Silox Industry Ltd (83.28 per cent) among others.
Sterlite Industries (India) Ltd, with foreign holding of 80.57 per cent, contributed Rs 5 crore to Congress in 2009-10.
In its letter, the Home Ministry has not specified what action the government is contemplating against these parties.