The BJP and Congress on Tuesday withdrew their appeals against a Delhi High Court judgment incriminating the political parties for receiving funds from foreign companies.
J S Khehar-led Supreme Court bench permitted the withdrawal, saying that they would be doing so at their own risk. It added that others were also at liberty to take appropriate steps against them as per the law. “Learned counsel for the petitioners state that they have been instructed to withdraw these petitions. Dismissed as withdrawn,” the bench said.
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Lawyers Kapil Sibal and Shyam Divan, who appeared for the two parties, cited the 2010 amendment to the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act and added that they could not be held liable for receiving foreign funds.
Divan said that the amendment provides that a contribution to a political party is not foreign if an Indian holds 50 per cent or more shares in a donor firm. He added that an Indian subsidiary of a company registered abroad can donate funds. Divan said that those donations cannot be regarded as foreign contributions after the amendment.
Earlier, the bench had on November 22 asked the parties whether they wanted to contest the High Court’s verdict or withdraw their appeals.
Lawyer Mohan Parasaran, representing the Congress, had argued that the amendment introduced in February has retrospective effect and their appeal against the judgment has become infructuous.
The amendment is aimed at easing the flow of donations from foreign companies under the corporate social responsibility category.
The High Court had in 2014 judgment said that the two parties had violated the law by receiving donations from UK-based Vedanta Resources’ subsidiaries and directed the Centre and Election Commission to take action within six months.
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