The Delhi High Court today sought the Union government’s stand on a contempt plea alleging it took no action against political parties violating foreign funding norms despite a court order. Justice Manmohan issued notice to the Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), seeking response on whether action would be taken against them under the older Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) or the newer one of 2010.
“The direction (of high court) has to be implemented. You (NGO) are right. But action under the new Act or the old Act, that is the moot question,” the court said.
The high court on March 28, 2014, held that BJP and Congress had prima facie violated the foreign funding law by receiving donations from UK-based Vedanta Resources’ subsidiaries and directed the Centre and Election Commission of India (ECI) to take appropriate action against them within six months.
Both political parties had challenged the verdict in the Supreme Court filing SLPs which were withdrawn in November last year.
The contempt plea by an NGO, Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), has contended that after withdrawal of the SLPs the high court’s judgement has attained finality, but the government has not taken any action.
The Central government’s standing counsel Monika Arora and advocate Kushal Sharma, appearing for the MHA, said the NGO’s plea, filed through advocate Pranav Sachdeva, was barred by limitation.
The lawyers also contended that they do not have a copy of the writ petition, also filed by same NGO in 2013, on which the March 2014 ruling had come.
The court, however, said, “Why do you (Centre) need the earlier petition? You have to act on the basis of the judgement. Why do you need the earlier pleadings? The matter is not to be re-argued.”
The court asked the lawyers for the government and the NGO to come prepared at the next hearing on July 20 to argue on whether action has to be taken under the newer law or the older one which had been repealed.