The Delhi High Court on Wednesday asked the Centre to file its response to a PIL seeking registration of a criminal case against Aam Aadmi Party alleging that it received foreign funding in violation of various laws. “Let Respondent no. 1 (Ministry of Home Affairs) file a counter affidavit within two weeks. Rejoinder, if any, be filed two weeks thereafter,” a bench of Acting Chief Justice B D Ahmed and Justice Siddharth Mridul said.
The bench also rejected the submission of advocate M L Sharma that the bank accounts of the party, which is still receiving donations from NRIs, be confiscated. Sharma, who had filed the PIL, submitted that his petition was earlier heard several times by another bench and, hence, it has wrongly been listed before this court.
“According to the counsel for respondents, no hearing, as such, has taken place. This matter is listed before this bench according to the roster,” the bench said, adding that no lawyer has “got control over the registry of this court”. The bench, which will now hear the matter on May 7, also said that former Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and other AAP founding members including senior advocate Shanti Bhushan need not file replies to the PIL as no notices were issued to them.
Earlier, AAP had filed its reply saying it did not flout any law in receiving foreign funds and the party got donations worth Rs 30 crore from Indian citizens only, out which about Rs 8.5 crore came from NRIs. “It is the only party whose all financial records and the names of each and every donor is on its website, open for public view,” the affidavit, filed by AAP national secretary Pankaj Kumar Gupta, had said and sought dismissal of the PIL.
Earlier, the court had issued notices to AAP on the plea. Besides Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan, petitioner advocate M L Sharma has made AAP leaders Manish Sisodia and Shanti Bhushan as parties in his PIL. Sharma, in his plea, had cited some names, including that of Kejriwal, and sought that “a direction be issued to register a criminal case against the respondents (AAP members) under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) and to conduct day-to-day trial proceedings under court supervision in the interest of justice.”