2023 (1) TMI 597 - HC - FEMA
Prohibition to accept foreign contribution - misuse of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act [FCRA ] by the political party - Association for Democratic Reforms seeking directions to constitute an independent tribunal or committee to oversee the enforcement of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 (‘FCRA Act’) - Petitioners have stated that that there have been several instances of political parties and legislators accepting contributions and hospitality from foreign sources which is, prima facie, in violation of the FCRA - HELD THAT:- The Petitioner has failed to place on record any data indicating the number of political parties which have availed of foreign contribution, and have failed to be penalised under the FCRA. The apprehension of the Petitioner that the FCRA may be misused for oblique motives is a bald averment and is entirely unfounded. Courts cannot pass a direction only on hypothesis. Nothing has been placed on record to show that the FCRA is being used selectively against NGOs and other independent organisations as well.
The entire case of the Petitioner is premised on the possibility of a political party, who is also at the helm of affairs at the Centre, abusing the provisions of the FCRA to suppress dissent and receive foreign contributions in its own favour. The instant Writ Petition is entirely built on surmises and conjectures.
There exists a basic difference between legislative and judicial functions, elucidated by the basic structure doctrine, which states that while the legislature makes laws, the executive enforces and administers it, and the judiciary tests the validity of legislation formulated by the Legislature.
It has been laid down in a catena of judgments the courts cannot direct the legislature to frame or enact a law and in a particular manner. It cannot amend a statute or add provisions to the statute, as that too would be tantamount to judicial legislation. The role of the judiciary is initiated only after a law is enacted to test the legality of a statue on the known principles of judicial review
Setting up of such Tribunals/Authorities/Committee is purely a policy decision, taken by the Legislature. A direction for setting up a Committee or Tribunal would effectively be an amendment of the FCRA, which is beyond the scope of judicial review by this Court. Hence, an attempt by a judicial body to set up a tribunal is directly in the teeth of the doctrine of separation of powers.
Recently, the Hon’ble Supreme Court vide Judgment in John Paily v. The State of Kerala,[2021 (4) TMI 1349 - SUPREME COURT] has held that Courts do not possess the power to set up an adjudicatory committee or a tribunal by way of issuing a writ of mandamus. In light of this, the direction sought by the Petitioner to set up a Committee or Tribunal to oversee the functioning of the FCRA is unsustainable. This Court cannot direct setting up of a Committee or a Tribunal, simply due to the possibility of misuse of the FCRA.
The entire case of the Petitioner rests on the possibility of misuse of the FCRA by the political party at the helm of affairs. This misuse, it is apprehended, may be directed towards hindering the independence of judicial officers, targeting NGOs and stifling dissent. Further, the Petitioner apprehends that due to a conflict of interest, the FCRA may not be effective to curb political parties from accepting foreign contributions. The mere possibility that a statute will not be administered adequately is not ground for the statute to be invalidated or for this Court to supplement its wisdom with the Legislature’s. To set up a committee or tribunal is a purely policy decision. The legislature alone has the power to set up a tribunal or committee, under the requisite statute, to adjudicate disputes arising from it. If the prayer sought by the Petitioner is allowed, it would essentially be an exercise in judicial legislation, and would be beyond the power of judicial review accorded to this Court. Due to the aforementioned reasons, this Court is not inclined to allow the present petition. Writ Petition is dismissed,