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"Govt. Failed To Take More Active Approach": Delhi HC Allows CHRI To Utilize 25% Of Its Foreign Contribution To Pay Salaries To Staff

Sparsh Upadhyay
30 July 2021 2:18 PM GMT
Govt. Failed To Take More Active Approach: Delhi HC Allows CHRI To Utilize 25% Of Its Foreign Contribution To Pay Salaries To Staff
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The Delhi High Court on Thursday allowed Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) to utilize 25% of the amounts lying in its custody as Foreign Contribution to meet its expenses towards payment of salaries of its employees and other personnel engaged by them in any project.The Bench of Justice Rekha Palli allowed the request of CHRI considering that grant of such permission would not, in...

The Delhi High Court on Thursday allowed Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) to utilize 25% of the amounts lying in its custody as Foreign Contribution to meet its expenses towards payment of salaries of its employees and other personnel engaged by them in any project.

The Bench of Justice Rekha Palli allowed the request of CHRI considering that grant of such permission would not, in any manner, hinder the Ministry of Home Affairs' investigations pending against the CHRI.

Facts in brief

The Court was hearing CHRI's petition assailing the order of the Deputy Secretary to the Government of India, Foreigners Division [FCRA Monitoring Unit], Ministry of Home Affairs whereby the petitioner's registration under the FCR Act was suspended pending a purported investigation into its affairs.

Since the suspension also had the effect of freezing the petitioner's receipt and utilization bank accounts, thus, it sent a representation to the Central Government seeking interim permission to utilize a portion of the foreign contribution lying in its custody in order to pay salaries and meet its operational expenses.

Since the representation went unanswered, the petitioner approached the Court.

On July 19, 2021, keeping in view the fact that the petitioner's employees' salaries were yet to be paid, the Court had issued notice to the Ministry of Home Affairs asking it to respond as to whether it was willing to consider, as an interim measure, the petitioner's request for utilizing a part of the foreign contributions in its custody to pay the salaries to its employees.

However, despite having had ten days to assess the situation, the Central Government did not take any decision in this regard, and it was submitted before the Court that the Ministry was are waiting for further report in respect of the petitioner from a foreign agency.

To this, the Court opined that a decision on whether the petitioner should be permitted to utilize a part of the foreign contribution in its possession as on date, in accordance with Section 13(2) of the FCR Act read with Rule 14 of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Rules, 2011, ought not to be made dependent on the report from a foreign agency.

Further, allowing CHRI to utilize 25% of its Foreign Contribtuin, the Court observed:

"Given that the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown most of our citizens in the throes of financial hardship and personal losses, it is a matter of deep concern that the Government has failed to take a more active approach for addressing the issues raised by the petitioner in the interim application."

"It is likely that these employees are finding it hard to meet ends and take care of their families, not to mention the prohibitive medical bills that most of them would have been saddled within the aftermath of the second wave," the Court further note.

CHRI has been directed to maintain an account of these expenses and furnish a copy of the same to the respondent, on a monthly basis, till the next date.

Case title - Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) v. Union of India

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