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SC Directed to List Matter Regarding Challenging FCRA Registration Cancellations on Nov 21

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Supreme Court Law Insider

Aastha Thakur

Published on: 22 October 2022 at 18:02 IST

The Supreme Court postponed until November 21 hearing of a petition contesting the Ministry of Home Affairs‘ decision to cancel or refuse to renew over 6,000 non-governmental organisations’ registration under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010.

The bench of Justices KM Joseph and Hrishikesh Roy gave the verdict after hearing the matter. The senior counsel Advocate Sanjay Hegde argued that most of the issues were already given by Noel Harper judgement upholding the FCRA Amendment Act. He then requested the court to dismiss the petition, allowing him to approach the government concerning incidental issues arising from the FCRA amendment Act.

Earlier this year, Justices AM Khanwilkar, Abhay S Oka, CT Ravikumar upheld the provisions of the Foreign Contributions (Regulation) Amendment Act, 2020, which places restrictions on ability of NGOs to raise and use foreign funds.

The Additional SG Aishwarya Bhati also agreed with the view of counsel that the plea need not to be delay anymore as the court as already discussed the issues raised.

The Bench, however, struck down the request, stating they would need to review the Noel Harper Judgment to see whether or not the issues had actually been handled. The matter was then deferred shortly afterwards.

The petitioner NGO Global Peace Initiative is trying to have a public notice from December 31, 2021 annulled to the extent that it prohibits organisations from accepting or using foreign donations they have received if their applications for registration renewal have been rejected.

Millions of Indians have profited from the work of these NGOs, according to the petition, and the sudden and unjustified cancellation of hundreds of these NGOs’ FCRA registrations infringes the rights of the organisations, their employees, and the millions of Indians they aid.

The Central Government, the Niti Aayog, and even the Prime Minister’s office itself have recognized the importance of NGOs to the combat against the pandemic. Therefore, the suspension of more than 6000 NGOs’ licences would hinder relief efforts and result in the denial of aid to individuals in need.

Apart from this,  the plea also requests to Centre to exercise its authoritarian power under Section 50 of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 and exempt all non-governmental organisations from the Act’s application, till the time the Covid-19 ceases to be a “notified catastrophe” under the Disaster Management Act.

Case Title: Global Peace Initiative & Anr vs Union of India & Ors.