July 20, 2021 2:16:31 am
THE DELHI High Court Monday said the Centre cannot take 180 days to decide whether to allow the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) to utilise 25 per cent of its foreign contribution and to receive donations from abroad.
The Centre had last month suspended the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) certificate of the civil society organisation.
“I am not giving you this endless time…that you will take 180 days — 180 days is for you to decide whether suspension should fructify in an order of whatever… you want to derecognise or do whatever,” Justice Rekha Palli told the government.
While issuing notice to the Centre in the petition by CHRI, seeking setting aside of the order suspending its FCRA certificate for 180 days, the court said that it finds “absolutely no merit” in the submission, as the 180-day time given under law to the authorities is for only taking a decision regarding continuation or discontinuation of the suspension order.
The court granted the government counsel time till July 26 to get instructions regarding the plea to allow CHRI to utilise 25 per cent of funds available with it, and the prayer to allow it to receive foreign funds during suspension period.
In the June 7 suspension order, the Ministry of Home Affairs had said that the information about opening of a bank account in February 2016 was not given by CHRI to the authorities. It also accused CHRI of other violations of FCRA, 2010.
“Further, one utilization account through which the Association has been utilizing foreign contribution has not been intimated in ARs for FY 2016-17 and 2017-18,” the MHA order stated.
Contending that the 180-day suspension threatens its “very existence” and causes great harm to its reputation, CHRI in the petition has said that freezing of its receipt and utilisation bank accounts have severely restricted its planned programme activities. CHRI is also now not in a position to pay salaries to its 40 staff members and consultants, the plea said.