Updated: May 14, 2021 4:53:44 am
THE DELHI High Court on Thursday directed the Centre to consider extending the deadline issued earlier by it for opening of bank account by NGOs at a designated branch of State Bank of India (SBI) in New Delhi for receiving foreign contributions.
“The amendment to Section 17 (FCRA) is not under challenge in these petitions. However, owing to the second wave of the pandemic and various difficulties which the organisations are stated to be facing, the MHA shall also consider as to whether the deadline of April 01 can be extended by any further period, and if so, till when,” Justice Prathiba M Singh said in an order.
In accordance with the amended provisions of FCRA, NGOs that have the certificate or approval under the Act are required to open an ‘FCRA account’ for the purpose of remittances of foreign contribution at an SBI branch in the national capital by March 31.
Three petitions have been filed in the court by organisations from Tamil Nadu and Telangana, seeking extension of the deadline on opening such FCRA accounts. “We are saying, allow us six more months to operate our old bank accounts,” advocate Abhishek Jebaraj, representing the three NGOs, said.
On Thursday, the court also asked the Centre whether, pending the Home Ministry’s approval, NGOs could be allowed to receive foreign contributions during the ongoing pandemic, so long as they maintain the record and report them in accordance with provisions of FCRA. The court noted that several organisations are approaching the court regarding opening of FCRA accounts in Delhi and for approvals by the MHA, and that non-receipt of contributions could lead to non-rendering of services during the pandemic by such organisations.
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