Economy

Even if Controversial FCRA Amendment Passes, There’s Still a Lot of Prosecuting to be Done

From 2004 to 2010, there are at least 25 instances of the BJP and Congress receiving funding from the Indian subsidiaries of foreign companies.

A file photo of the Vedanta office building in Mumbai Credit: REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

A file photo of the Vedanta office building in Mumbai Credit: REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

New Delhi: Indian political parties aren’t completely off the hook when it comes to receiving foreign funding, even if the Government’s furtive attempt to amend the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act 2010 (FCRA) goes through.

Data from a public interest litigation filed in the Delhi High Court in 2013 shows that there are, at the very minimum, twenty five instances of the Indian National Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party receiving funding from the Indian subsidiaries of various foreign companies before 2010.

The year ‘2010’ is key here because the newly proposed amendment, which will give the Congress and BJP a pass from 2014 Delhi High Court judgement on foreign funding, will be applied retrospectively with effect from September 26, 2010.

“In the FCRA Act 2010, in section 2… the following proviso shall be inserted with effect from 26 September, 2010,” the amendment, which seeks to redefine Vedanta and other foreign companies as ‘Indian companies’, reads.

The table below however shows that both the BJP and Congress received funding in the range of Rs. 5 lakh to Rs. 5 crore from the Indian subsidiaries of Vedanta, Dow Chemicals and Switzerland-based Mundipharma over the course of six years from 2004 to 2010.

Company

Amount (In Rupees)

Year of Donation

Political Party

Parent Company

Hyatt Regency

5,00,000

FY 04-05

INC

American Origin Company

Sterlite Industries Ltd

100,00,000

FY 04-05

INC

Vedanta

Sesa Goa Ltd

5,00,000

FY 04-05

INC

Vedanta

Sesa Goa Ltd

5,00,000

FY 04-05

INC

Vedanta

Sesa Goa Ltd

2,00,000

FY 04-05

INC

Vedanta

Adani Wilmer Ltd

2,50,000

FY 05-06

INC

Adani Wilmar Limited is a 50:50 joint venture between the Adani Group and Wilmar International Limited

Sesa Goa Ltd

5,00,000

FY 05-06

INC

Vedanta

Sesa Goa Ltd

5,00,000

FY 05-06

INC

Vedanta

Sesa Goa Ltd

2,00,000

FY 06-07

INC

Vedanta

Sesa Goa Ltd

15,00,000

FY 07-08

INC

Vedanta

Adani Wilmer Ltd

5,000,000

FY 08-09

INC

Adani – Wilmer JV

Solaries Holding Ltd

5,000,000

FY 09-10

INC

Vedanta

Solaries Holding Ltd

5,000,000

FY 09-10

INC

Vedanta

Sterlite Industries (India) Ltd.

50,000,000

FY 09-10

INC

Vedanta

Sesa Goa Ltd

30,00,000

FY 09-10

INC

Vedanta

Sesa Goa Ltd Sesa Ghor

5,00,000

FY 05-06

BJP

Vedanta

Win Medicare (P) Ltd

25,00,000

FY 05-06

BJP

Swiss origin company

Sesa Goa Ltd

2,00,000

FY 06-07

BJP

Vedanta

Dow Chemical Int (P) Ltd

1,00,000

FY 06-07

BJP

Union Carbide acquirer

Sesa Goa Ltd

15,00,000

FY 07-08

BJP

Vedanta

Sesa Goa Ltd

12,50,000

FY 07-08

BJP

Vedanta

Adani Wilmar Ltd

50,00,000

FY 08-09

BJP

Vedanta

Vedanta The Madras Aluminum Ltd

30,000,000

FY 09-10

BJP

Vedanta

Vedanta The Madras Aluminum Ltd

50,00,000

FY 09-10

BJP

Vedanta

Sesa Goa Ltd

50,00,000

FY 09-10

BJP

Vedanta

Win Medicare (P) Ltd

25,00,000

FY 09-10

BJP

Swiss origin company

Sesa Goa Ltd

10,00,000

FY 09-10

BJP

Vedanta

 

 

 

 

 

 

The data in the table was taken primarily from public sources; in this case from the contribution reports of various political parties, which is available with the Election Commission of India. It was compiled by the Ahmedabad-based Association of Democratic Reforms (To see the original document and list, go here).

According to former government Secretary E A S Sarma, all foreign corporate donations made before September 26th, 2010, are violative of the earlier FCRA (1976) and the Representation of the People Act (RPA).

The donations listed out in the table above, therefore, could potentially be looked into and found to be illegal, even if the Modi government’s decision to amend the FCRA (2010) goes through.

In a letter to cabinet secretary P K Sinha, Sarma says that “concerned political parties should be prosecuted under both the RPA and the earlier FCRA. Failing to do it would imply that the governments concerned had abetted the offences and, therefore, would also become liable to be proceeded against”.

When The Wire reached out to Sarma, he emphasized that there was a need to keep FCRA implementation outside the purview of government control. “My worry is that they take prompt action when it comes to [the foreign funding] of NGOs but when it comes to corporates and political parties, less action is seen,” he said.

Another important issue that Sarma draws attention to in his letter, when it comes to FCRA violations, is that the new amendment will only become applicable to “donations received from subsidiaries of foreign companies specifically covered by that amendment”.

However, when one looks at the donations in the table above, it becomes clear that there are certain foreign companies such as Dow Chemicals who appear to have allegedly passed on donations without “going through the conduit of subsidiaries”. This sort of foreign funding is violative of even the newly amended FCRA.