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

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.

Quick revision mind map

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

  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

TH

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