In an effort to create an awareness on unknown political donations and challenge the recent amendment in the Finance Bill 2018 exempting political parties from scrutiny on foreign fund donations, social activist and Founder of GoaChronicle.com, Savio Rodrigues has initiated a nationwide campaign ‘#WhyHide’.
As part of the campaign #WhyHide a petition which will be presented to the President of India and a Public Interest Litigation will be filed in the Supreme Court challenging the amendment in the Finance Bill 2018.
Speaking on #WhyHide, Rodrigues stated, “In the ruckus over the non-functioning of Parliament, Narendra Modi led government along with the Opposition parties have passed an amendment in the Finance Bill 2018. The Parliamentarians have amended the definition of foreign source retrospectively with effect from 5th August, 1976 the date of commencement of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 1976.
This amendment is primarily intended to protect political which received donation from subsidiaries of foreign companies in violation of FCRA.”
Throwing light on the clandestine method and reasons behind the amendment, Rodrigues elaborated, “Recently in the case of Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) vs Union of India, judgement dated 28th March, 2014 the Delhi High Court held major National political parties BJP and Congress were guilty of taking foreign funding and violating the provisions of FCRA and directed the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and Election Commission of India (ECI) to take action against the two parties within six months. It was observed by the Court that these political parties had taken donations from Vedanta & its subsidiaries, registered in England and Wales, and its subsidiaries. The Bench also rejected the stand taken by Ministry of Home Affairs which said that FCRA has not been violated.
The judgment drew attention to the donations made to INC and BJP for the period up to the year 2009.
As a response to the above judgement the Finance Act 2016 amended the FCRA Law with retrospective effect. However the amendment to FCRA 2010 did not help the recipient of foreign contribution from such companies prior to 2010. Therefore this year the Finance Bill 2018 as proposed to extent the effect of amendments to 5th August 1976 retrospectively.
The Finance Bill 2018 has amended the FCRA 1976 w.e.f from 5th August, 1976. It is ironical that an amendment has been made to an act which has been repealed since September 2010.”
According to the ADR report, total income of political parties from unknown sources (income specified in the IT Returns whose sources are
unknown): Rs 7,832.98 crores, which is 69% of the total income of the parties. During the 11 years between FY 2004-05 and 2014-15, 83% of total income of INC, amounting to Rs 3,323.39 cr and 65% of total income of BJP, amounting to Rs 2,125.91 cr came from unknown sources
#WhyHide the sources of the political funding from foreign donors. Are the sources questionable? Are the sources Anti-India forces? Will the sources of funds expose the hypocrisy of your political ideology or contribution to the nation? Not one politician in the Parliament opposed this amendment. It is passed quietly without a debate.
Their actions only go to prove that there is something questionable in the non-declaration of the sources of foreign funding in political parties in particular BJP and Congress,” Rodrigues questioned.
Join the fight for transparency in political donations – Foreign and Indian.