In the shenanigans in Parliament a very controversial amendment has gone unnoticed by the people of India.
The controversial amendment to the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) exempts political parties from scrutiny of foreign funding, with retrospective effect.
Prior to the latest change, foreign funds received by a political party before September 26, 2010, when the FCRA was enacted, were open to scrutiny. With the latest amendment, the Government has, in effect, ensured that funds received by political parties since 1976 cannot be scrutinised.
I am referring to entry number 217 in Part XIX of the amendments in the 2018 finance Bill (Amendment to the Finance Act, 2016), which reads : “In the Finance Act, 2016, in section 236, in the opening paragraph, for the words, figures and letters ‘the 26th September, 2010, the words, figures and letters ‘the 5th August, 1976’ shall be substituted,” said the amendment. The FCRA was passed in 1976. It was later repealed and replaced with the FCRA, 2010.
The Representation of People’s Act, which lays down the rules for elections, bars political parties from accepting foreign funds. But the 2016 amendments in the FCRA made it easier for parties to accept foreign funds. The 2018 amendment completely does away with the scope for scrutiny of a political party’s funding for the last 42 years.
The Delhi High Court had in 2014 indicted the two national parties, the Congress and the BJP, for receiving foreign funds in violation of the provisions of the FCRA.
In simple terms it means the law, the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010, that prohibited foreign funding for Indian political parties, has now been amended to exempt parties from any scrutiny. In effect, no questions will be asked and no answers given on such funding, including possible illegal transactions.
If this is the way political parties are suppose to function in a democracy, then our democracy is under threat from the very people sworn to uphold it.
Modi government has rightful questioned many NGOs about their foreign funding, but where he has turned out to be a bit of hypocrite is in the disclosure of the funding of political parties; what exempts political parties from those same questions. Is a Narendra Modi or Rahul Gandhi or Lalu Prasad Yadav above the law meant for the common citizen?
I am surprised Mr Modi that you cry ‘corruption’ about Congress and throw light on their ill-gotten wealth but you allow Parliament to pass a law that will question that ill-gotten wealth.
I cannot understand what makes law makers themselves hypocritical when it comes to disclosing detail about their funds. Politicians are secretive and protective about their income and find ways to circumvent the law
I often believe that when it comes to the money of the common man thousands of questions will be asked but for the politician the law does not apply.