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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

FCRA certificate suspension: Centre to submit sealed cover to Delhi HC in response to CHRI plea

The court had asked the Central government counsel last week to get instructions regarding CHRI’s interim prayer to allow it to utilise 25 per cent of the funds available with it and the prayer to allow it to receive foreign funds during the suspension period.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: July 27, 2021 3:15:58 am
Justice Rekha Palli listed the case for next hearing on July 29 and allowed the Centre to submit the information.

THE CENTRE on Monday told the Delhi High Court that it would submit certain information in a sealed cover in response to Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI)’s petition challenging suspension of its Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) certificate for 180 days.

The court had asked the Central government counsel last week to get instructions regarding CHRI’s interim prayer to allow it to utilise 25 percent of the funds available with it and the prayer to allow it to receive foreign funds during the suspension period.

“I don’t know what the secret is going to be in interpretation of the statute. Whatever confidential may be, it may be regarding the suspension but today I am only considering an interim arrangement which should be made,” said Justice Rekha Palli, after hearing the submission of the government counsel.

Advocate Anil Soni, representing the Centre, told the court that the information would be submitted in such a manner “in view of the allegations which are there in the official, classified input…”

Justice Palli listed the case for next hearing on July 29 and allowed the Centre to submit the information. “I will just see what they have to show me. If there is something real grave, I will see… otherwise there is nothing happening. I normally permit them to send me anything…If there is nothing, I don’t even look at it and I will not even take that into consideration,” said the court

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) suspension order, passed on June 7, said that the information about opening a bank account in February 2016 was not given by CHRI to the authorities. It also accused CHRI of other violations of the FCRA, 2010. “Further, one utilisation account through which the Association has been utilising foreign contribution has not been intimated in ARs [Annual Returns] for the FY 2016-17 and 2017-18,” the ministry said in the order.

Contending that the 180-day suspension threatens the “very existence” of the organisation and causes great harm to its reputation, the CHRI in the petition has said the 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.

It further submitted that it has demonstrated to the ministry that the accounts and details referred to in the suspension order had been furnished by it. “The fourth allegation involves a gross misinterpretation of Section 8(1)(a) of the FCRAS….Refund of unutilized foreign contribution back to the donor in the FY 2013-14 and 2014-15 has wrongly been held to violate this provision,” it said in the plea.

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