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SC will hear the plea of NGOs on Oct 5, challenging MHA notification extending date of compliance of specific provisions of FCRA Act

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New Delhi, Sept 7 (ILNS) Supreme Court today deffered the hearing on the plea of NGOs to October 5, which challenged the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), May 18, 2021 notification by which the government extended the date for compliance of the specific provisions of the Foreign Contribution Regulation (Amendment) Act (FCRA), 2020.  

A Three judges Bench of Justice A.M. Khanwilkar , Justice Hrishikesh Roy and Justice C.T.Ravishankar will continue hearing pleas of NGO and listed the matter for October 5.   

Senior Advocate Gopal Sankaranarayan, appeared for Noel Harper who assailed such notification. Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain appeared for the Union of India.

The plea of NGOs accorded more time to adhere with provisions of the Foreign Contribution Regulation (Amendment) Act 2020. 

ASG refered to section 50 of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 2010  and submited that it was assumed that the Petitioner has assailed the constitutional validity of the act, they cannot challenge such in vaccum. 

Section 50 of FCRA ACT, 2010 (Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 2010) provides  the power to Central Government to exempt any organisation, any individual from the operation of all or any provision of the act, to revoke or modify such order, the central government deem fit, may exercise such power, by order which is in the interest of general public, subjected to such conditions. 

Justice Khanwilkar asked the Union whether they want to file a response to the Petition assailing such notification issued by Ministry of Home Affairs. To which, ASG Sanjay Jain asked initially 4 weeks time to file it. Later on, it was limited to 3 weeks. 

The Bench also inquired that whether the Petitioner has grievance w.r.t the amendment act 2020, to which the counsel of Noel Harper submitted that extension of validity of registration certificates issued under The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act 2010 expiring or expired during 29th September 2020 and 31st May 2021 to 31st May 2021. 

Senior.Advocate Gopal Sankaranarayan submitted that penal consequences to be followed against Union. if I cannot open my bank account in New Delhi Branch and asked interim relief to be given to NGOs. The Bench submitted to counsel of NGOs that what exactly timeline was given to you. Nothing to be stayed then. 

As per  Ministry of Home Affairs Notification dated 18th of May 2021, clarifies that for ensuring smooth transition to amended FCRA regime, the central government has exercised the powers by virtue of section 50 of FCRA Act, 2010, thus decided to extend the deadline of expiring registration certificates and such will remain valid upto 30th September 2021. 

NGOs in its writ Petition further prayed that “Pursuant to the notification, the MHA has directed NGOs and individuals holding FCRA license to open bank accounts in the designated Branch of the State of India at New Delhi latest by June 30, 2021 instead of the prior deadline of March 31, 2021. Furthermore, the MHA has also validated the license of these NGOs and individuals till September 2021 on the ground of Covid-19 exigency as many NGOs are currently involved in Covid-19 related relief work.”

Peremptory reliefs being sought are imperative in order to protect the Sovereignty and Integrity of India, as FCRA seeks to regulate the foreign contributions or donations to organizations and individuals in India, and to curb such contribution which are being used against National Interest in violation of the provisions of the FCRA. Taking the advantage of the ongoing pandemic situation, some of the NGOs, by circumventing the provisions of FCRA, are misusing the funds, and therefore, it is imperative to strictly adhere to the timeline of 30.6.2021,” plea contends.

FOREIGN CONTRIBUTION (REGULATION)AMENDMENT ACT , 2020 –

This amendment bill was brought into effect from September 29, 2020 and major changes were done in parent act FCRA ACT, 2020.  Some sections were amended and some were inserted replacing the old provision of FCRA Act. 2010. Such Sections are – Section 3, Section 7, section 8 , section 12a, section 13, Section 14a Section 17./ ILNS/KY/SNG

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