‘Five companies listed as foreign entities that contributed to BJP, Congress are not foreign firms’

The Delhi High Court on Friday reserved order on a public interest litigation seeking probe by a special investigation team or the Central Bureau of Investigation into the alleged receipt of monetary donations from foreign companies by the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party in violation of the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act (FCRA).

A Division Bench of Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Jayant Nath reserved the judgment on conclusion of arguments by counsel for the petitioner, non-government organisation Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), and the Union Government.

The government said in an affidavit that five out of the seven companies that have been listed in the petition as foreign entities which made contributions to the BJP and the Congress are not foreign firms. These are companies are Madras Aluminium Company Ltd. (the Indian subsidiary of the United Kingdom-based Vedanta Resources), Hyatt Regency, Win Medicare (Pvt.) Limited, Adani Wilmer Ltd. and Sterlite Industries India Limited.

The petitioner, through ADR secretary Jagdeep S. Chhokar and former Power Secretary of Union Government E.A.S. Sarma, alleged that Messrs Vedanta Resources and its subsidiaries had donated several crores of rupees to major political parties like the Congress and the BJP in violation of FCRA.

“….. The group made political donations in India to the tune of $2.01 million [$0.02 million in 2011] either through a trust or directly in respect of the general elections. The board believes that supporting the political process in India will encourage and strengthen the democratic process,” the petitioner said, quoting Vedanta’s 2012 annual report.

“Also, it is clear from Vedanta’s application to the London Stock Exchange that [Finance Minister] P. Chidambaram was its director till May 2004. After that he became a Union Minister… and income tax exemptions are being given to Vedanta and the Congress for the illegal donations,” the petition has alleged.

“Therefore, in view of a clear situation of conflict of interest, a court-monitored investigation is required as Centre is unlikely to proceed against major political parties or corporate groups like Vedanta on its own.”

Public sector companies like State Trading Corporation and Minerals and Metal Trading Corporation also gave donations to the Congress. The 2008-09 contribution report of the BJP showed that the Gujarat Government had given a donation to the BJP, the petition charged.

The petition further said that Mr. Sarma had written to the Election Commission and the Union Revenue Secretary about illegal payments to these parties but he received no reply from them.

More In: Delhi