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FCRA can be used for State oppression: Prashant Bhushan on need for FCRA tribunal

Smrithi Suresh

Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan today moved the Delhi High Court for setting up of a tribunal for administering and monitoring the implementation of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act , 2010 (FCRA).

Bhushan’s petition asks for a specific tribunal to deal with all FCRA matters The petition, a copy of which is with Bar & Bench, said that there is a possibility of using the FCRA as an ‘instrument of state oppression.’

“There have been instances of political parties and their affiliated organizations accepting donations and legislators hospitality, from foreign sources. In such cases, there is likely to be a conflict of interest in the administration of FCRA against them, by bureaucracy, in view of the close association of the political executive with the political parties, their affiliated institutions and legislatures.” 

The petition further highlighted the fact that even judges of constitutional courts as well as members of the press were covered by the Act, which could severely affect judicial independence and freedom of speech.

Interestingly, in 2013 the Delhi High Court had ruled that the BJP and Congress were in violation of the FCRA. Both parties had appealed against the judgment with the appeals currently pending before the Supreme Court.

Bhushan’s petition states that inspite of the Delhi HC’s judgment, no effective action was taken against the parties, further increasing the need for an independent body to ‘administer and enforce the FCRA.’

The matter came up for hearing before a Division Bench of Chief Justice G Rohini & Justice Jayant Nath, and was adjourned to November 19.

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