The Delhi high court on Thursday disposed of a plea seeking a Central Bureau of Investigation probe against Team Anna members and some NGOs affiliated to them for allegedly receiving funds illegally from foreign organisations.
A bench of Chief Justice D Murugesan and Justice V K Jain disposed of the plea after the Centre informed the court that while some of the NGOs affiliated to anti-graft activist Anna Hazare's team had received foreign funds, which were utilized irregularly, it does not warrant any criminal investigation.
The bench was also not pleased with the fact that the petitioner, advocate M L Sharma, had not appeared before it on the last three hearings of the case, including on Wednesday.
"It (Sharma's absence) happened on December 5, 2012, January 16, yesterday and even today also. Status report has been filed by the respondent (Centre), we are disposing of the plea," the bench said.
The Centre, in its affidavit, said that NGOs Navjyoti Indian Foundation and India Vision Foundation, run by Kiran Bedi, and NGO Kabir, run by Manish Sisodia, had received foreign funds but the same was not used for any political activity or the India Against Corruption movement.
It has also said, "Inspections were carried out in August and also in November 2012 under Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) and FCR Rules and some irregularities were found. These irregularities are not serious enough at this stage to warrant a criminal investigation.
"During inspection no documentary proof in the records of the association was found to show the use of the fund in any such political activity or in India Against Corruption movement or agitation.”
Sharma, in his plea, had alleged that the NGOs received funds from foreign organisations without the government's permission and had used the funds for running their agitation for the Lokpal Bill.
According to the Centre's affidavit, during inspection of Kabir's account in August, 2012 some vouchers were not supported with bills and some bills for repairing personal vehicles were claimed from the association's accounts.
In addition, cash was disbursed to many persons without justification or record, most of the foreign contribution has been spent on tours and travel without approval of trustee and Sisodia has been getting salary for discharging his duties, said the affidavit adding that Kabir's present office runs from residential flat of Sisodia's wife.
The government said that during inspection of India
Vision Foundation's accounts in November, last year, it was found that the organisation maintained 15 bank accounts including FCRA designated bank account and it frequently withdrew foreign contribution.
In the PIL, the petitioner had said that FCRA mandates the members to seek permission from the Central government in order to receive any fund from any foreign company or organisation.
The members have violated FCRA and the Centre has failed to take any action against them, it had alleged. It had also sought a direction to "Union of India to conduct CBI investigation against team members and ask for an action taken report."