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Court seeks Congress, BJP response to allegations of donations from Vedanta

Posted on Feb 05, 03:02PM | UNI

New Delhi, Feb 4 : The Delhi High Court today issued notices to two main political parties--Congress and BJP--in a petition seeking directive for CBI or SIT probe into the alleged donations taken by them from subsidiaries of Britain-based Vedanta group.

A bench comprising justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and justice Indermeet Kaur sought response from both political parties within three weeks and posted the matter to March 19.

The court had earlier sought response from the Home Ministry and Election Commission (EC) before proceeding with its action of seeking reply from the political parties.

The EC told the court that it had approached Home Ministry twice on this issue but no reply has been received so far.

The Home Ministry said that it has asked both parties to file their replies which is awaited.

The EC had complained to the Home Ministry in September 28, 2012 that certain political parties had received foreign donations.

Secretary of Election Commission Ashish Chakraborty said that a reminder was also sent to the Ministry but no response has been received so far.

The court was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by NGO Association for Democratic Reforms and E A S Sarma, a former secretary in the Central Government, alleging that Indian laws had been violated by the Congress and BJP by allegedly receiving funding from Vedanta Resources.

The two parties breached the Representation of the People Act, 1951, and the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA), the PIL alleged.

The Representation of the People Act prohibits political parties from taking donations from government companies and from foreign sources, the PIL said.

According to FCRA rules, it is prohibited to have financial contributions from foreign sources, companies or political parties.

The PIL alleged that the Britain-based Vedanta Resources and its subsidiary companies in India like Sterlite, Sesa Goa and Malco have donated several crores of rupees to major political parties here.

The PIL said that Vedanta itself in its 2012 annual report has declared that it donated to the tune of 2.01 million dollars in 2011-12.

The donations were made through a trust or directly, Vedanta had said in its annual report, the petitioner alleged.

The PIL sought court's directions to Central Government to confiscate the illegal donations.