No foreign funds for political activity: HC

Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF), an NGO challenged certain provisions of the Act as well as the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Rules, 2011 seeking declaration of them as ultra vires of the Constitution.

The Delhi High Court dismissed the petition finding it without substance.
INSAF’s counsel senior advocate Sanjay Parikh contended that the provisions of the Act and Rules were against the fundamental rights provided under the Articles 14 (equality) and 19 (freedom of expression) of the Constitution.

He contended that the power granted to the Central government under Section 5(1) of the Act to frame rules or guidelines for organisation of political nature could be abused by the executive.

Certain activities are sometimes undertaken for the advancement of the political interest of marginalised sections which cannot be put under the category of political interest while such organisations cannot be said to be of a political nature, he argued.

Parikh further said an organisation engaged in political actions which included ‘bundh’, ‘hartal’ and ‘jail bharo’ cannot be regarded as an organisation involved in political activities to be denied foreign contribution.

Advocate Himanshu Bajaj, appearing for the Centre, submitted that a misuse or abuse of power cannot be a ground to strike down a provision as that would come within the illegal exercise of power.

The counsel further said, the purpose of the Act is to regulate the foreign contribution in a certain sphere and the purpose of the Act has a specific object and addresses a concern and, therefore, it does not deserve to be declared ultra vires.

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