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2020 (3) TMI 1103

..... of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Rules, 2011 as violative of Articles 14, 19 (1) (a), 19 (1) (c) and 21 of the Constitution of India - Guidelines for declaration of an organisation to be an organisation of a political nature not being a political party are found in Rule 3 of the Rules - principal challenge of the Appellant-organisation to Section 5 (1) of the Act is on the ground that the terms ‘activity, ideology and programme’ are vague and have not been defined in the Act which result in conferring unbridled and unfettered power on the executive. Therefore, the Appellant-organisation contended that Section 5 (1) is violative of Article 14 of the Constitution. Section 5 (4) is also challenged on the ground that the authority to whom a representation should be made has not been specified and it is not clear whether the authority would be an independent authority or the Central Government itself HELD THAT:- Where the provisions of a statute are vague and ambiguous and it is possible to gather the intention of the legislature from the object of the statute, the context in which the provisions occur and purpose for which it is made, the doctrine of “reading .....

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..... politics, that are covered by Rule 3 (vi). To make it clear, such of those organisations which are not involved in active politics or party politics do not fall within the purview of Rule 3 (vi). We make it clear that organisations used for channeling foreign funds by political parties cannot escape the rigour of the Act provided there is concrete material. In that event, the Central Government shall follow the procedure prescribed in the Act and Rules strictly before depriving such organisation the right to receive foreign contributions. - Civil Appeal No.1510 of 2020 ( Arising out of SLP (C) No. 33928 of 2011 ) - 6-3-2020 - L. Nageswara Rao And Deepak Gupta, JJ. For the Petitioner : Kabir Dixit JUDGMENT L. Nageswara Rao , J. 1. The Appellant filed a Writ Petition in the High Court of Delhi for a declaration that Sections 5 (1) and 5 (4) of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 (hereinafter referred to as the Act ) and Rules 3 (i), 3 (v) and 3 (vi) of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Rules, 2011 (hereinafter referred to as the Rules ), are violative of Articles 14, 19 (1) (a), 19 (1) (c) and 21 of the Constitution of India. The High Court dismissed the Writ Petitio .....

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..... ch is to educate and promote civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights cannot be prevented from having access to funding, whether domestic or foreign. Curtailing the right of the Appellant-organisation in having access to foreign funds would result in the violation of the fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 19 (1) (a) and 19 (1) (c) of the Constitution. He relied upon the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which have been accepted as sources of human rights by the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993. Mr.Parikh submitted that political rights are an integral part of human rights and any restriction in exercise of political rights would be unconstitutional. 4. Mr.K.M.Nataraj, learned Additional Solicitor General appearing for the Respondent defended the judgment of the High Court by arguing that all the relevant points have been rightly adjudicated by the High Court. He argued that the constitutional validity of a statute can be challenged only on two grounds which are legislative competence and violation of any of the fundamental rights guaranteed under Part III of the Constit .....

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..... in Association for Democratic Reforms v. Union of India (2014) 209 DLT 609 as follows: It can be safely gathered that amidst a spate of subversive activities sponsored by the Foreign Powers to destabilize our nation, the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 1976 was enacted by the Parliament to serve as a shield in our legislative armoury, in conjunction with other laws like the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, 1973, and insulate the sensitive areas of national life like - journalism, judiciary and politics from extraneous influences stemming from beyond our borders. 6. In view of several deficiencies in the 1976 Act, a fresh law in the shape of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 was made by repealing the 1976 Act. The introduction of the Act is as under: It had been noticed that some of the foreign countries were funding individuals, associations, political parties, candidates for elections, correspondents, columnists, editors, owners, printers or publishers of newspapers. They were also extending hospitality. The effects of such funding and hospitality were quite noticeable and to have some control over such funding and hospitality and to regulate the acceptance an .....

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..... all be specified as an organisation of a political nature. Section 48 (2) (d) empowers the Central Government to frame guidelines, specifying the ground(s) on which an organisation may be specified as an organisation of a political nature under Section 5 (1). In exercise of power conferred under Section 48, the Central Government framed the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Rules, 2011. Rule 3 of the Rules, which is relevant for this case, is as follows: 3. Guidelines for declaration of an organisation to be of a political nature, not being a political party. - The Central Government may specify any organisation as organisation of political nature on one or more of the following grounds: (i) organisation having avowed political objectives in its Memorandum of Association or bylaws; (ii) any Trade Union whose objectives include activities for promoting political goals; (iii) any voluntary action group with objectives of a political nature or which participates in political activities; (iv) front or mass organisations like Students Unions, Workers' Unions, Youth Forums and Women's wing of a political party; (v) organisation of farmers, workers, students, youth based on caste, .....

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..... ), the organisation is to be given an opportunity to submit its representation which shall be considered within the time prescribed in Section 5 and an order is required to be passed recording the reasons therefor. 12. Guidelines for declaration of an organisation to be an organisation of a political nature not being a political party are found in Rule 3 of the Rules. We are concerned with Rules 3 (i), 3 (v) and 3 (vi) of the Rules, which are the subject matter of challenge in this appeal. 13. The principal challenge of the Appellant-organisation to Section 5 (1) of the Act is on the ground that the terms activity, ideology and programme are vague and have not been defined in the Act which result in conferring unbridled and unfettered power on the executive. Therefore, the Appellant-organisation contended that Section 5 (1) is violative of Article 14 of the Constitution. Section 5 (4) is also challenged on the ground that the authority to whom a representation should be made has not been specified and it is not clear whether the authority would be an independent authority or the Central Government itself. The High Court held that the words activities of the organisation, the ideolo .....

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..... ennett Coleman & Co. v. Union of India, (1972) 2 SCC 788 and Tata Engineering and Locomotive Ltd. v. State of Uttar Pradesh, (2011) 3 SCC 193). In the absence of any member of the association as a petitioner in the Writ Petition, the Appellant-organisation cannot enforce the rights guaranteed under Article 19 of the Constitution. 16. The principal contention of the Appellant-organisation is that the guidelines provided in Rule 3 are vague and confer naked and untrammeled power on the executive thereby giving the scope for arbitrary exercise of power. In K. A. Abbas v. Union of India (1970) 2 SCC 780 this Court was of the opinion that: 46. The real rule is that if a law is vague or appears to be so, the court must try to construe it, as far as may be, and language permitting, the construction sought to be placed on it, must be in accordance with the intention of the legislature. Thus, if the law is open to diverse construction, that construction which accords best with the intention of the legislature and advances the purpose of legislation, is to be preferred. Where however the law admits of no such construction and the persons applying it are in a boundless sea of uncertainty .....

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..... tion 3 (1) (f) and Section 5 of the Act. The Central Government is required to take into account the activities, ideology or the programme of the organisation including the association of the organisation with activities of any political party before declaring an organisation as an organisation of political nature not being a political party. Guidelines that are prescribed by the Rules indicate that only those organisations which are actively involved in politics or associated with political parties can be declared as organisations of a political nature. The question that falls for our consideration is whether the guidelines in Rule 3 suffer from vagueness and ambiguity and whether they can be stated to be conferring uncanalised power on the executive. According to Rule 3 (i) an organisation having avowed political objectives in its memorandum of association or bye laws is an organisation of a political nature. As the intention of the legislature is to prohibit foreign funds in active politics, an Association with avowed political objectives (i.e. to play a role in active politics or party politics) cannot be permitted access to foreign funds. There is no ambiguity in the provision .....

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..... Any organisation which habitually engages itself in or employs common methods of political action like 'bandh' or 'hartal', 'rasta roko', 'rail roko' or 'jail bharo' in support of public causes can also be declared as an organisation of political nature, according to the guideline prescribed in Rule 3 (vi). Support to public causes by resorting to legitimate means of dissent like bandh, hartal etc. cannot deprive an organisation of its legitimate right of receiving foreign contribution. It is clear from the provision itself that bandh, hartal, rasta roko etc., are treated as common methods of political action. Any organisation which supports the cause of a group of citizens agitating for their rights without a political goal or objective cannot be penalized by being declared as an organisation of a political nature. To save this provision from being declared as unconstitutional, we hold that it is only those organisations which have connection with active politics or take part in party politics, that are covered by Rule 3 (vi). To make it clear, such of those organisations which are not involved in active politics or party politics do not fal .....

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