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SC grants 3 weeks time to Centre to respond to pleas regarding FCRA

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Supreme Court - law insider

Shivangi Prakash-

Published on: September 8, 2021, at 10:26 IST

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court scheduled a hearing on a petition questioning the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Government of India’s notification dated May 18, 2021, which increased the deadline for compliance with specific provisions of the Foreign Contribution Regulation (Amendment) Act (FCRA), 2020.

The petition submitted by Noel Harper of the NGO Care and Share Charitable Trust was heard by a three-judge Bench consisting of Justices A.M. Khanwilkar, Hrishikesh Roy, and C.T. Ravikumar.

ASG Sanjay Jain represented the Union government, while Senior Advocate Gopal Sankaranarayan represented Harper.

The NGO has been given more time to comply with the FCRA’s 2020 restrictions.

The Government has also approved the licences of these NGOs and individuals until September this year, according to one of the petitions, and these decisions were made solely on the basis of COVID-19 necessity, as numerous NGOs are engaging in COVID relief efforts.

“As prayed by counsel for the respondent-Union of India, three weeks’ time is granted to the respondent(s) to file counter affidavit, and thereafter one week’s time is granted to the petitioners to file rejoinder affidavit,” the Bench, said in its Order.

The Supreme Court said it will be available to the respondents to file a standard reply affidavit that may be utilised in all of these matters when it posts the case for hearing on October 5.

The petition, filed by counsel Gautam Jha, also asks the Government to keep a list of all NGOs that receive funds under the FCRA, especially during COVID periods.

The petitioner does not dispute that many real NGOs and individuals with FCRA licences are performing important work, particularly in the area of COVID relief, according to the plea.

According to the plea, there is another connected element of alleged diversion of monies acquired under the FCRA for activity or agendas that are not permitted by law that needs to be addressed.

“It is clarified here, that the petitioner is not impugning per se the MHA notifications by which the dates have been presently extended,” the plea stated.

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