Vedanta cuts political donations in India by half

Vedanta cuts political donations in India by half

Last Updated: Sunday, March 30, 2014, 13:31
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Vedanta cuts political donations in India by half
New Delhi: Donations by mining conglomerate Vedanta Resources to Indian political parties were cut by half to USD 0.97 million (over Rs 5 crore) in 2012-13.

The company promoted by billionaire Anil Agarwal had contributed USD 2.01 million to political parties in India in 2011-12, according to the London-listed firm's annual report for 2012-13.

"The Board believes that supporting the political process in India will encourage and strengthen the democratic process," the company said in the annual report, without disclosing the beneficiaries.

According to annual reports of Vedanta's listed subsidiary firms, Sesa Goa paid Rs 30 lakh to the Bharatiya Janata Party in 2012-13, while Sterlite Industries gave Rs 5 crore to the Public and Political Awareness Trust, set up by the group to make political donations.

In August 2013, Vedanta merged both subsidiaries and some other group companies into a new entity, Sesa Sterlite.

Sesa Goa's annual report showed its political donations dropped significantly in 2012-13 to Rs 30 lakh from Rs 4.65 crore in 2011-12 as its operations were hit by a mining ban.

Sesa Goa made donations to the Congress (Rs 2 crore), BJP (Rs 1.75 crore), Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (Rs 50 lakh), All India Trinamool Congress (Rs 15 lakh) and Nationalist Congress Party (Rs 25 lakh) during 2011-12.

A Vedanta spokesperson did not reply to PTI queries.

Vedanta donated USD 5.69 million (about Rs 28 crore) to political parties in India between 2009-10 and 2011-12. This includes USD 3.66 million during 2009-10, when the previous general elections were held.

Since listing on the London Stock Exchange in 2003, the company had donated USD 8.29 million to Indian political parties, compilation of data from its annual reports showed.

On Friday, the Delhi High Court said the BJP and Congress prima facie violated foreign funding rules by receiving donations from Vedanta's subsidiaries and directed the Centre and the Election Commission to take action within six months.

The court held that Vedanta is a foreign company as per the Companies Act and the firm and its subsidiaries Sterlite and Sesa are foreign sources, as per the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act of 1976.

The court said that "since the writ petition drew attention to donations made to political parties for the period up to the year 2009, we record at the outset that our concern is not with the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010, which has come into force on September 26, 2010.

"Our discussion of the legal position would be with respect to the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 1976."


First Published: Sunday, March 30, 2014, 13:31


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