Courts Update SBI delays opening of FCRA account, NGO moves Delhi...

SBI delays opening of FCRA account, NGO moves Delhi HC

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New Delhi, May 8 (ILNS): An NGO, Christian Educational Society, has approached the Delhi High Court, complaining that due to some delays in filing of their application – because of the pandemic – SBI has refused to open their FCRA account in the bank, New Delhi, in terms of the amendments to Section 17 of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 1976.

The NGO complained that this could mean that they may not be able to access due foreign funds, intended for charity work during this crisis. The Single-Judge Bench of Justice Prathiba M Singh yesterday issued notice on this.

The last date of filing applications for opening an FCRA account – as per a notification of October 13, 2020 – was April 1, 2021.

The NGO alleged that it submitted its documents to SBI, New Delhi on March 25, 2021. However, the bank pointed out certain defects in the application and SBI communicated this to the NGO on March 27, 2021 and on April 8, 2021.

Thereafter, it is alleged that the NGO’s representative located in Delhi had submitted all hard copies of the documents that are required for the said application and to open the FCRA account. However, owing to the pandemic situation, there had been some delay in the said submission of documents, and possibly even in the processing of the same by the SBI.

The Counsel for the NGO submitted that an extension may be granted for opening of the said FCRA account beyond March 31, 2021. The Counsel said that the NGO is unable to accept any foreign contributions or funding, in the meantime, which is jeopardising its actions, given the dire situation of the pandemic. The fund is needed to provide social and economic help to the needy people.

The Counsel for SBI sought time from the Bench to take instructions as to how much time the bank would be taking to open the FCRA account of the NGO.

The FCRA is a law of the government of India, which regulates the receipt of foreign contribution or aid from outside India to Indian territories. This is essential to ensure that such aid does not affect any political or other situation in India. For genuine donation, the provision of law is not very difficult to comply.

The regular compliance is limited to filing of annual return every year. This law is enforced by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. There is a separate section in the Ministry to ensure compliance to the Foreign Funding Registration. ILNS\AV\SJ\RJ

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