The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice to Centre and Election Commission on Congress Party's plea challenging Delhi High Court's verdict holding it along with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) prima facie guilty of violating the foreign funding law by receiving donations from UK-based Vedanta Resources' subsidiaries.
Agreeing to hear Congress Party's appeal, a bench headed by Chief Justice RM Lodha said Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) requires interpretation and asked the government and the Commission to file their response within eight weeks.
Refusing to stay the High Court's order, the bench, however, allowed the party to approach it if any coercive action is taken against it in compliance of the HC order.
Senior advocate and former Law Minister Kapil Sibal, appearing for the party, submitted that there is no concealment or suppression of such contribution which were duly reflected in the returns submitted to the Election Commission.
"The prohibition to make any contribution to a candidate or a political party or office bearers thereof relates to foreign citizens and Indian entities, if more than one half of the nominal value of share capital of such entities are held either singly or in the aggregate by citizens of a foreign country," the party said in its petition.
It contended that Vedanta is owned by an Indian citizen, Anil Aggarwal, and its subsidiaries are incorporated here, therefore they are not foreign sources.
The High Court on March 28 had held that Vedanta is a foreign company as per the Companies Act and therefore, the Anil Aggarwal-owned company and its subsidiaries, Sterlite and Sesa, are foreign sources as per Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA).
The verdict was given on a PIL by a NGO, Association for Democratic Reforms and EAS Sarma, a former secretary of the Government of India, who had alleged that the two political parties violated the Representation of People's Act and FCRA by taking donations from government companies and foreign sources.