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AAP foreign funding not in contravention of law: Govt to HC

AAP foreign funding not in contravention of law: Govt to HC
The counsel appearing for the Home Ministry told a bench, comprising Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice R S Endlaw, that the Intelligence Bureau (IB) report has found nothing against the AAP.

The court, however, directed the government to file a fresh status report in a sealed cover regarding its findings in the matter.

The court reserved the verdict on the plea seeking CBI probe into the past and present foreign funding of AAP in alleged violation of FCRA provisions.

"We will take into consideration all the facts and then decide the matter. Judgement reserved," it said.

Advocate Pranav Sachdeva, appearing for AAP, said the party had not flouted any law in receiving foreign funds and got donations worth Rs 30 crore from Indian citizens only, of which about Rs 8.5 crore came from NRIs.

Terming the charges levelled against AAP as "baseless", he said the party has even written to Supreme Court to set up a special investigation team (SIT) to probe the funding of all major national and regional parties in the country.

The plea, moved before the high court on February 4, had also sought CBI probe against Home Ministry officials, who in their report had earlier stated that donations made by eight foreign residents to AAP, were not in violation of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA).

Challenging the Home Ministry report, advocate M L Sharma, had in an Interlocutory Application (IA), requested that the "sources of the foreign funding to the respondents (AAP and its members) from other countries in past/current must be verified/probed by CBI under supervision of this court for further action and prosecution in the interest of justice."

The application was filed before the court which is already hearing a PIL by Sharma alleging that AAP has been receiving foreign funds in violation of FCRA.

AAP leaders Arvind Kejriwal, Prashant Bhushan, Manish Sisodia and Shanti Bhushan were made parties in the PIL.

The plea cited some names, including that of Kejriwal, seeking direction to register a criminal case against AAP members under FCRA and conducting day-to-day trial under high court supervision.

Denying violation of foreign exchange or other laws, AAP had earlier contended that the PIL accusing it and its founding members of having illegally received foreign funding was "scandalous, frivolous, motivated and baseless".

AAP had claimed that it has "very small amount of funds and has the most transparent method of political funding among all parties".

The PIL had also alleged that "undisclosed funding to AAP was coming from terrorist groups" and that the party had succeeded in stalling Home Ministry probe against it and managed to get a favourable reply to mislead this court.

It had alleged that it was a case of serious corruption on part of the ministry officials who filed an "un- investigated" report despite high court direction.

The ministry in its report had said that eight people with foreign addresses made donations to AAP and "their passport numbers as mentioned in the contribution report of EC were checked and it was found that they possess Indian passports and NRIs holding Indian passports are not a foreign source."
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