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Is Narmada movement getting foreign funds, SC asks Centre
February 12, 2007 20:06 IST
The Supreme Court on Monday asked the central government to respond within four weeks to the allegation that the Medha Patkar-led Narmanda Bachao Andolan was illegally receiving funds from abroad.
Though the NBA strongly opposed the maintainability of the PIL filed by a Gujarat-based NGO National Council for Civil Liberties on the issue, a Bench comprising Justice C K Thakker and Justice L S Panta said since notices were issued to the Centre and others, counters have to be filed by them.
The Bench said till it goes into the response of the contesting parties, the issue of maintainability of the PIL would remain open.
The court on July 7 last year had issued notices to the Centre, the NBA and one of its activists Rahul Banerjee on the NCCL plea seeking CBI probe into the alleged illegal activities of NBA.
The court had not issued notices to Patkar and CBI.
The court had also sought response from Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat governments on the allegation by the NGO that the NBA activists were involved in anti-national activities.
Senior advocate Indra Jaisinh, appearing for the NBA and its activists, alleged that NCCL has filed the PIL by suppressing some crucial facts and as such the petition was not maintainable.
The counsel alleged that a personal battle was being fought by misusing the forum of judiciary and the NGO's identical petition was dismissed by the Gujarat high court in December 2001 which has been suppressed in the PIL.
A similar petition by the NGO was withdrawn from the apex court in 2005, the NGO submitted.
The NCCL has accused the NBA of acting at the behest of foreign powers and creating political instability in the country on the strength of foreign funds.
The NGO has alleged that the NBA was receiving funds in violation of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act and had claimed that police had arrested Banerjee and the computer and other documents seized from him showed that he had received funds in dollars from MCArthur Foundation of US and Oxfam, UK.
The PIL has alleged that Banerjee was facing charges of sedition in Devas court in Madhya Pradesh and according to the information gathered from his computer, the NBA was getting foreign funds from Right Livelihood Foundation and Goldman Foundation which was used for running the Jan Sahyod Trust.The NCCL had submitted that the NBA activists were booked for allegedly creating hurdles in the rehabilitation process in Madhya Pradesh.