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FCRA : Supreme Court Grants One Week Time To Centre To Respond To Pleas Challenging Amendments & Deadline Extension

Srishti Ojha
5 Oct 2021 12:36 PM GMT
FCRA : Supreme Court Grants One Week Time To Centre To Respond To Pleas Challenging Amendments & Deadline Extension
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The Supreme Court on Tuesday granted one week time to the Union of India to file its counter-affidavit in petitions filed challenging the Foreign Contributions Regulation (Amendment) Act 2020 and Ministry of Home Affair's notification dated May 18, 2021 extending the date for compliance of specific provisions of the Act.A Bench comprising Justice A.M Khanwilkar, Justice...

The Supreme Court on Tuesday granted one week time to the Union of India to file its counter-affidavit in petitions filed challenging the Foreign Contributions Regulation (Amendment) Act 2020 and Ministry of Home Affair's notification dated May 18, 2021 extending the date for compliance of specific provisions of the Act.

A Bench comprising Justice A.M Khanwilkar, Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and Justice C.T Ravikumar adjourned the case today after a request for the same was made on behalf of Union of India.

The Bench has directed the matter to be listed after one week.

During the hearing, Senior Advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan appearing in the petition filed by Noel Harper opposed the request for adjournment on grounds that adjournments have already been taken in the past for the same reason.

However, the Bench allowed the adjournment after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta submitted that he will personally ensure that reply affidavit will be filed in 1 week

The writ petitions, Noel Harper and others v. Union of India and Jeevan Jyothi Charitable Trust and others v. Union of India have challenged the amendments saying that they have imposed harsh and excessive restrictions on the NGOs in utilizing foreign funds.

The other petition Vinay Vinayak Joshi v. Union of India  has challenged the extension of time allowed by the MHA to NGOs to comply with the new FCRA conditions.

Pursuant to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Government of India notification dated May 18, 2021, the MHA has directed NGOs and individuals holding FCRA license to open bank accounts in the designated Branch of the State Of India at New Delhi latest by June 30, 2021 instead of the prior deadline of March 31, 2021. Furthermore, the MHA has also validated the license of these NGOs and individuals till September 2021 on the ground of Covid-19 exigency as many NGOs are currently involved in Covid-19 related relief work.

These petitions sought the Court's directions to the Union of India to not further extend the deadline for opening bank accounts under Section 17 of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 2010 in the notified branch of State Bank of India, New Delhi.

Furthermore, directions were also sought to ensure that the Centre does not extend the validity of registration certificates issued to the NGOs under the FCRA beyond September 30, 2021.

The pleas alleged that various NGOs have been misusing the FCRA regime to siphon off funds obtained from abroad by taking undue advantage of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

"Peremptory reliefs being sought are imperative in order to protect the Sovereignty and Integrity of India, as FCRA seeks to regulate the foreign contributions or donations to organizations and individuals in India, and to curb such contribution which are being used against National Interest in violation of the provisions of the FCRA.

Taking the advantage of the ongoing pandemic situation, some of the NGOs, by circumventing the provisions of FCRA, are misusing the funds, and therefore, it is imperative to strictly adhere to the timeline of 30.6.2021," one of the pleas contends.

Case Title: Noel Harper and Ors v. Union of India, Vinay Vinayak Joshi v. Union of India and Jeevan Jyothi Charitable Trust and others v. Union of India

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