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Supreme Court Dismissed Ministry of Home Affairs’ Plea to Renew FCRA Registration Cancellations

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Supreme Court Law Insider

Sakina Tashrifwala

Published on: 22 November 2022 at 21:08 IST

The Ministry of Home Affairs‘ decision to suspend or refuse to renew over 6,000 non-governmental organisations’ registration under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010, was rejected by the Supreme Court. The appeal was filed until November 21.

The FCRA Amendment Act 2020 was affirmed in the Noel Harper v. Union of India ruling, which was cited by the bench of Justices KM Joseph and Hrishikesh Roy in the order.

“The Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and the petitioners’ lawyer both concur that this court’s ruling in Noel Harper v. Union of India adequately addressed the issue. The petition is rejected for the aforementioned reasons.”

The Foreign Contributions (Regulation) Amendment Act, 2020, which establishes restrictions on the ability of NGOs to raise and use foreign contributions, was upheld by Justices AM Khanwilkar, Abhay S. Oka, and CT Ravikumar on April 8 of this year.

If any additional ancillary prayers are still in the plea, the Bench also gave the petitioners freedom to present a case before the relevant body.

“The majority of the difficulties, according to Senior Advocate Sanjay Hegde’s argument during the prior hearing, were addressed in the Noel Harper decision, which affirmed the FCRA Amendment Act. He then asked the court to dismiss the petition, allowing him the freedom to approach the government with ancillary issues resulting from the FCRA amendment Act.”

The Bench, however, turned down the request, saying they would need to review the Noel Harper Judgment to see whether or not the problems had actually been addressed.

The petitioner NGO Global Peace Initiative sought to invalidate a public notice dated December 31, 2021 inasmuch as it forbids groups whose requests for registration renewal have been denied from using or accepting any foreign funds.

Millions of Indians have benefited from the work of these NGOs, according to the petition, and the unexpected and arbitrary cancellation of hundreds of these NGOs’ FCRA registrations breaches the rights of the organisations, their employees, and the millions of Indians they assist.

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

In addition to this, the petition asks that the Central Government use its authority under Section 50 of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010, to exempt all Non-Governmental Organizations from the Act’s application as long as Covid-19 is still considered a “notified disaster” under the Disaster Management Act.