Apex court issues notice to central government on foreign funding to political parties

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The apex court bench led By CJI Dipak Misra on July 2 issued notices to the central government on a plea challenging that recent amendments made to the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), 2010 have opened the doors to unlimited political donations from foreign firms.

The Bench comprising of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud issued the notice in a writ petition.The PIL was filed by the Association of Democratic Reforms and it claims that amendments were intended to protect suspect political donations by certain NRI-led companies to the Congress and BJP.

In this case, the government will now have to file a formal reply defending the amendments.

“The said amendments have been made in an attempt to overturn the judgement passed by the Delhi High Court (in a PIL filed by petitioners herein) holding the two major political parties (the BJP and the Congress) guilty of taking foreign funding, against which the special leave petitions were dismissed by this court,” read the plea, filed through advocates Prashant Bhushan and Pranav Sachdeva.

“The said amendments have been made in an attempt to overturn the judgment passed by the Delhi High Court (in a PIL filed by petitioners herein) holding the two major political parties (the BJP and the Congress) guilty of taking foreign funding, against which the special leave petitions were dismissed by this court,” plea stated. 

The Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, enacted originally in 1976, prohibits political parties from accepting contributions from foreign companies/sources. While the 2010 FCRA Act eventually repealed the 1976 Act, the Act remained the same insofar as the bar on receiving foreign donations was concerned. The amendments under challenge were made in 2016 and 2018.