Delhi HC clubs PILs over foreign funding of political parties

30 January 2014

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday transferred to another bench a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking a probe against the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party for allegedly receiving funds from UK-based Vedanta Resources in violation of various laws.

Delhi High CourtThe Anil Agarwal-promoted Vedanta is listed in London, but focuses mainly on mining and mineral extraction in India. Many of its projects are embroiled in environmental controversies.

"We are sending the matter to other bench which is hearing a similar case (a PIL on foreign funding of the Aam Aadmi Party)," a bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana said.

The PIL, which also seeks confiscation of funds allegedly received from abroad by the two parties, will now be listed before a bench headed by Justice Pradeep Nandrajog for hearing on 5 February. The bench will also hear another PIL against AAP's funding on the same day.

Earlier, the court had issued notices to the political parties, the ministry of home affairs and the Election Commission on the PIL filed by the Association for Democratic Reforms and E A S Sarma, a former secretary to the union government.

The PIL has sought a direction for a "court-monitored investigation by SIT (Special Investigation Team) or the Central Bureau of Investigation into the violation of foreign funding and other laws by major political parties, corporate groups and PSUs."

It has alleged that the two political parties have violated the Representation of People's Act and the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) by taking donations from government companies and foreign sources, which is prohibited under both the legislations.

The petition alleged that UK-based Vedanta Resources and its subsidiary companies in India, including Sterlite Industries, Sesa Goa and Malco "have donated several crores of rupees to major political parties like the INC (Indian National Congress) and the BJP".

The PIL has also alleged that according to Vedanta's annual report of 2012, it had made political donations to the tune of $2.01 million either through a trust or directly, in respect of the Indian general elections due in a few months.

 search domain-b