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Extend FCRA License Of NGOs Till COVID Remains Notified As 'National Disaster': Plea In Supreme Court

Srishti Ojha
20 Jan 2022 6:20 AM GMT
Extend FCRA License Of NGOs Till COVID Remains Notified As National Disaster: Plea In Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court of India has agreed to hear on 24th January a writ petition filed challenging the decision of the Ministry of Home Affairs cancelling/refusing to renew the registration under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 of close to 6,000 non-governmental organisations.A Bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar on Thursday agreed to list the matter on Monday after it...

The Supreme Court of India has agreed to hear on 24th January a writ petition filed challenging the decision of the Ministry of Home Affairs cancelling/refusing to renew the registration under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 of close to 6,000 non-governmental organisations.

A Bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar on Thursday agreed to list the matter on Monday after it was mentioned by Senior Advocate Sanjay Hegde on behalf of the petitioners.


The present petitioner Global Peace Initiative is an organization incorporated in the State of Texas, United States of America with offices across the world, including in India. The Petitioner No.2, Dr. KA Paul, an evangelist, and humanitarian is the founder of the petitioner Organization. The petitioners have moved the Supreme Court through Advocate Pranjal Kishore and Advocate Aditya Jain.

The petition has sought striking down of the Public Notice dated 31.12.2021 to the extent that it does not permit organizations whose applications for renewal of registration have been rejected, to not accept or utilize the foreign funds received.

Further directions have been sought to the Union of India to extend the validity of registration of those organizations that had failed to apply for renewal of registration, till such time as Covid-19 continues to be a 'notified disaster'.

The petitioners have urged the Court to direct the Central Government to exercise its powers under Section 50 of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 and exempt all Non-Government Organizations from the operation of the Act, till such time as Covid-19 continues to be a 'notified disaster' under the Disaster Management Act.

The petition has argued that the work done by these NGOs helped millions of Indians and the sudden and arbitrary cancellation of FCRA registration of thousands of these NGOs violates the rights of the organizations, their workers as well as the millions of Indians who they serve.

The petition has stated that the role of NGOs in helping combat the pandemic has been acknowledged by the Central Government, the Niti Aayog and the Prime Minister's office itself. Cancellation of the licenses of close to 6000 NGOs at this time will hamper relief efforts and lead to denial of aid to citizens in need.

The petition has submitted that the renewal application for the Missionaries of Charity was rejected on the basis of "adverse inputs". However, none of the provisions state that "adverse inputs" maybe a ground for refusal/cancellation or non-renewal of registration.

The petitioners have argued that the refusal to renew the license is ex-facie illegal and liable to be set aside, and cancellation of the license of a renowned charitable organization like the Missionaries of Charities on vague grounds such as "adverse inputs" will have a chilling effect on all other Non-Governmental Organizations.

The petition has stated that the FCRA Amendment Act, 2020 was challenged before the Supreme Court, in the case of Noel Harper & Ors. v. Union of India & Anr., and the Court has reserved judgment in the case in November last year. However, according to the petitioners, it appears that the MHA has relied on the non- fulfilment of the same provisions which were under challenge, to cancel/ refuse renewal of close to 6000 NGOs.

The Petitioners have argued that the cancellation of licenses can have a debilitating effect on the Covid relief efforts.

The petitioners have submitted that the peak of the second wave, a number of NGOs and industry bodies had made representations seeking waiver of the requirements of the FCRA, and the MHA had also issued directions in exercise of powers conferred by Section 50 of the Act, extending the validity of registration of various organisations "ïn view of the exigencies arising out of Covid-19 situation". The same exigencies exist today and the decision to cancel/not renew licenses therefore shows lack of application of mind.

The petitioners have also relied on MHA's direction dated 31st December 2021 to state that theMissionaries of Charity and all other organizations, renewal of whose FCRA license has been rejected, will not be allowed to receive or utilize funds.

It has been stated that MHA through its direction dated 31.12.2021 extending the validity of registration of certificates of NGOs whose applications were pending and stated that "in case of refusal of the application for renewal of certificate of registration, the validity of the certificate shall be deemed to have expired on the date of refusal of the application of renewal and the association shall not be eligible either to receive foreign contribution or utilise the foreign contribution received."

Case Title: Global Peace Initiative & Anr vs Union of India & Ors 

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