A bench of the Delhi high court comprising Justices Sanjay Kishen Kaul and Indermeet Kaur on Monday issued notices to the Union government and the Election Commission of India on a petition that alleged that the Indian National Congress and Bhartiya Janata Party have violated the Representation of People’s Act (RPA) 1951 and Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) by taking donations from government companies and foreign sources, which is prohibited under both the legislations.
In the first hearing, the Delhi high court had asked the Central government (Home ministry) the ECI to file their responses within two weeks following the first hearing on January 10, 2013.
The ECI has responded in its submission to the Delhi high court on the issue of foreign sources of funding to the INC and the BJP that as per the existing provisions of section 29B of Representation of People’s Act 1951, no political party shall be eligible to accept any contribution from any foreign source defined under clause (e) of Section 2 of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 1976.
The ECI has submitted in its response that the commission is not an investigating agency and it cannot detect from the contribution reports (that they have to submit to the ECI under rule 85B of the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961 in order to secure the tax relief) of political parties as to which sources of funds belong to foreign companies or their Indian subsidiaries.
The ECI has further stated that the onus of investigating and taking of punitive action against any offence committed by political parties, or the PSUs or the corporate lies with government of India.
The ECI has also stated in its affidavit to the court that it wrote to Ministry of Home Affairs on September 28, 2012 where the commission forwarded the complaints that it received about the foreign sources of contributions that political parties have received."
MHA haven’t responded despite the two letters from ECI.
After MHA failed to respond to the ECI in any manner, the latter wrote another letter on January 11 2013, requesting for a response to its earlier letter and also asked the MHA whether any action had been taken in that regard. The MHA also mentioned in the court that the Congress has submitted the response but the BJP is yet to file theirs.