Citizens' Issues
Vedanta PIL: Centre asked to respond to plea for probe into funding for parties from UK group

The ministry of home affairs and Election Commission of India have been asked by the Delhi High Court on Thursday to respond to a plea for a court-monitored probe by an SIT or the CBI into the funds allegedly received by the Congress and BJP from UK-based Vedanta Resources and some Indian public sector undertakings

The two-member Delhi High Court bench comprising justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Indermeet Kaur asked the home ministry and Election Commission of India (ECI) to file their replies in the matter relating to funds, allegedly received by the Congress and BJP from UK-based Vedanta and some domestic PSUs, within two weeks. The next date of the hearing in the matter is set for 4 February 2013. The court further said that it will not call upon the political parties, Congress and BJP, to respond until after hearing the responses of the Home Ministry and ECI.

The PIL was filed by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and Dr EAS Sarma, former secretary to the Government of India. Moneylife has been following the matter closely since it emerged last August. We have reported how the Anil Agarwal-promoted Vedanta Group, which does not give political donations, either in the UK of European Union without board approval, has admitted to paying around $8.3 million to political parties since 2003-04.

It has also emerged that both BJP and Indian National Congress (INC) have themselves declared, in their annual contribution reports submitted to the ECI, that they have received funding from the Vedanta Group, which is listed on London Stock Exchange under the name Vedanta Resources PLC.

Which political parties benefitted from Vedanta’s donations? Read the analysis, by Sucheta Dalal.

EAS Sarma, in a letter to the Chief Election Commissioner, had also pointed out that as per information compiled by ADR from 2007 to 2009, both BJP and Congress received donations from other companies as well. Nippon Investment and Finance Pvt Ltd, one of the promoters of Videocon Industries, donated Rs1 crore while a Honda group unit gave Rs15 lakh to the BJP as donation. Congress also received Rs2 lakh from State Trading Corporation of India and MMTC, both government undertakings.

The grounds for the PIL are, therefore, as follows:

a) INC and the BJP have violated Section 29B of the Representation of People’s Act 1951, which categorically prohibits them to take donations from government companies and from any foreign source

b) The donation of huge sums of money made by the Vedanta Group (being a foreign company) to major political parties like INC and BJP is in clear violation of the FCR Act of 1976 and the FCR Act of 2010.

c) The donation of huge sums of money by the public sector undertakings (who are also State within Article 12 of the Constitution) to the political parties is in violation of Section 293A of the Companies Act.

The petition also states that UK-based Vedanta Resources and its subsidiary companies in India, such as Sterlite Industries, Sesa Goa and Malco “have donated several crores of rupees to major political parties like the Congress and the BJP”.

The plea was listed for 10 January 2013 after justice VK Jain recused himself, without assigning any reason, from hearing the matter which was listed 9 January 2013 before the bench headed by Chief Justice D Murugesan.

You may also like to read Moneylife’s coverage on: Which companies are funding political parties and how legal is it


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Jindal Power asked to get coal, power min nod for mine expansion

Jindal Power had approached the environment ministry seeking clearances for expanding the capacity of Gare Palma coal mine

New Delhi: An environment ministry panel has asked Jindal Power to first get approvals from coal and power ministries before seeking environmental clearances for nearly doubling coal production to 12 million tonnes per annum from a mining project in Chhattisgarh, reports PTI.


Jindal Power (JPL) had approached the environment ministry seeking clearances for expanding the capacity of Gare Palma coal mine from 6.25 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) to 12 MTPA allotted to it in 1998 for a power project at Tamnar in Chhattisgarh.


The Expert Appraisal Committee after deliberation said that “the increased production will reduce coal availability years for the original plant (4x250 MW).”


Consequently, it “desired that the proponent should come back with the permission from the ministry of power and ministry of coal for the proposed expansion production from the mine originally allocated to match the requirement of 4x250 MW for its full life,” sources said.


The mining operation for the power firm's 5.25 MTPA opencast mine—which was earlier accorded environmental clearances—started in 2006.


The entire coal is being supplied to the 1,000 MW thermal power plant at Tamnar, located about seven km away from the mine.


 JPL later applied for enhancement of capacity of mine from 5.25 MTPA to 6.25 MTPA, following which the environmental clearance was accorded for capacity expansion.


JPL which proposes to expand the capacity of its 1,000 MW power plant at Tamnar in Chhattisgarh to 3,400 MW and is seeking the expansion of its coal mining projects to feed the plant.


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