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Right to receive foreign donations – The recent observations of the supreme court

From Current Affairs Notes for UPSC » Editorials & In-depths » This topic

The Supreme Court recently upheld amendments introducing restrictions in the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) while holding that no one has a fundamental or absolute right to receive foreign contributions.

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This topic of “Right to receive foreign donations – The recent observations of the supreme court” is important from the perspective of the UPSC IAS Examination, which falls under General Studies Portion.

The recent observations of the supreme court

The sovereignty of the nation:

  • The apex court reasoned that an unbridled inflow of foreign funds may destabilise the sovereignty of the nation.

Strict regulatory framework:

  • The petitioners have argued that the amendments suffered from the “vice of ambiguity, over-breadth or over-governance” and violated their fundamental rights.
  • But the court countered that the amendments only provide a strict regulatory framework to moderate the inflow of foreign funds into the country.

Socio-economic and political structure:

  • The free and uncontrolled inflow of foreign funds has the potential to impact the socio-economic structure and polity of the country.

No fundamental or absolute right:

  • No one can be heard to claim a vested right to accept foreign donations, much less an absolute right, said the court.

How does the apex court see the foreign fund?

Works like nectar:

  • Philosophically, foreign contribution (donation) is akin to gratifying intoxicants replete with medicinal properties and may work like nectar.

Amount of consumption matters:

  • However, it serves as medicine so long as it is consumed (utilised) moderately and discreetly, for serving the larger cause of humanity.
  • Otherwise, this artifice has the capability of inflicting pain, suffering and turmoil as being caused by the toxic substance (potent tool) — across the nation.

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Key takeaways from the Courts observations

Charity could be found at home:

  • The court said the charity could be found at home. NGOs could look within the country for donors.

Fundamental rights have to give way to the larger public interest:

  • Fundamental rights have to give way in the larger public interest to the need to insulate the democratic polity from the “adverse influence of foreign contributions”.

Indication about the government:

  • An unregulated inflow of foreign donations would only indicate that the government was incapable of looking after its own affairs and the needs of its citizens.

The ambition of being self-reliant:

  • The third-world countries may welcome foreign donations, but it is open to a nation, which is committed and enduring to being self-reliant.

Practice Question for Mains

  1. For a country like India, the foreign contribution is akin to gratifying intoxicants replete with medicinal properties and may work like nectar. Critically comment. (250 Words, 15 Marks)
Referred Sources

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