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.
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.
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
- 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)