CBI probe plea against Hazare supporters disposed of

Indo Asian News Service

New Delhi, Jan 24 (IANS) The Delhi High Court Thursday disposed of a petition seeking a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe against some Anna Hazare supporters for allegedly receiving funds illegally from foreign organisations.

A division bench of Chief Justice D. Murugesan and Justice V.K. Jain disposed of the plea after the central government submitted that it had found lapses in foreign funding to three NGOs linked to Anna Hazare supporters but there is "no need for a criminal case".

The home ministry, in an affidavit, said Navjyoti Indian Foundation and India Vision Foundation, run by Kiran Bedi, and Kabir, run by Manish Sisodia, had received foreign funds but they were not used for any political activity or the India Against Corruption group.

Meanwhile, a junior of advocate Manohar Lal Sharma, who filed the (public interest litigation) PIL, informed the court that the counsel was engaged in the Delhi gang-rape case being heard in a Saket court and, therefore, he could not attend this hearing.

Justice Jain criticised the conduct of the counsel for remaining absent from the last four hearings.

"It happened on Dec 5 (2012), Jan 16, yesterday (Jan 23) and even today (Thursday) also. Status report has been filed by the respondent (central government), we are disposing of the plea."

The affidavit of the home ministry said: "Inspections were carried out in August and in November under Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) and FCR Rules and some irregularities were found."

"These are not serious enough at this stage to warrant criminal investigation. During inspection, no documentary proof in records of the association was found to show the use of the fund in any such political activity or in India Against Corruption (IAC) movement or agitation," said the affidavit.

The affidavit said that during an inspection at Kabir in August, it was found that some vouchers were not supported by bills while repairing bills of personal vehicles were claimed from the association's accounts.

It said cash was disbursed to many people without justification or records. Most of the foreign contributions were spent on tours without approval of the trustees and the NGO was being run from Manish Sisodia's flat.

It was found that the India Vision Foundation maintained 15 bank accounts including an FCRA-designated account and frequently withdrew foreign contributions and deposited them into other accounts, said the affidavit.

The government filed its affidavit on a plea by advocate Manohar Lal Sharma alleging that supporters of Hazare received foreign funds for their agitation on the Lokpal Bill in violation of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act.