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Supreme Court Turns Down Plea To Extend Lapsed FCRA Licenses Of NGOs

Shruti Kakkar
25 Jan 2022 9:04 AM GMT
Supreme Court Turns Down Plea To Extend Lapsed FCRA Licenses Of NGOs
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Taking note of the submission of the Solicitor General of India that the FCRA registrations of 11,594 NGOs which applied within the cut-off date have been extended, the Supreme Court on Tuesday turned down a plea for interim relief to allow the continuation of FCRA licenses of organizations, which were valid as on 30.09.2021, till further orders.The PIL was filed challenging the expiry of...

Taking note of the submission of the Solicitor General of India that the FCRA registrations of 11,594 NGOs which applied within the cut-off date have been extended, the Supreme Court on Tuesday turned down a plea for interim relief to allow the continuation of FCRA licenses of organizations, which were valid as on 30.09.2021, till further orders.

The PIL was filed challenging the expiry of the licenses of over 6000 NGOs under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act.

Senior Advocate Sanjay Hegde, appearing for the petitioner-NGO, prayed for an alternate direction to extend the FCRA licenses of NGOs if they apply within the next two weeks.

However, a bench comprising Justice AM Khanwilkar, Justice CT Ravikumar and Justice Dinesh Maheshwari refused to grant the interim relief. The bench said that the petitioner may give a representation to the authorities if it has any suggestion and the authorities may consider the same on its merits.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, on the basis of instructions from Ministry of Home Affairs, told the bench the FCRA licenses of 11,594 NGOs which applied for renewal within the cut-off date have been extended.

The Solicitor General also questioned the locus of the petitioner-organization saying that a "Houston based association should not be concerned with this". "I don't know what is the purpose of this PIL. Something is amiss", the SG said.

Hegde submitted that to the best of the petitioner's knowledge, the licenses of over 6000 organizations have been withheld. The bench observed that those NGOs may have chosen to not apply under the new FCRA regime following the recent amendments.

The bench passed the following order :

"...we have heard the counsel for the parties on interim relief. The petitioners have sought interim directions that all organizations whose FCRA license was valid as on 30.09.2021 ought to continue until further orders. In response, the learned Solicitor General on instructions submits that 11, 594 NGOs who already applied within the cut-off time and their registration have been extended for time being. In the light of this stand taken by the authorities, we don't intend to pass any interim order as prayed. If the petitioners have any other suggestion, they may file a representation before the authorities which may be considered on its own merits by the authorities".

The writ petition will be considered next after the Court pronounces judgment in the petitions challenging the FCRA amendments.

The petition was filed by Global Peace Initiative, an organization incorporated in the State of Texas, United States of America with offices across the world, including in India and Dr. KA Paul, an evangelist and founder of the petitioner Organization.

The petitioners had 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.

It was also 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 further 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. 

Case : Global Peace Initiate and another versus Union of India | W.P.(C) No. 21/2022

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