Thursday 26 May 2022
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NGOs denied foreign funding licence get no relief from SC

The Supreme Court rubbishes the plea that 'the sudden and arbitrary cancellation of FCRA registration of… these NGOs violates the rights of the organisations'

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The Supreme Court today refused to pass interim order to protect around 6,000 NGOs whose Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act registration did not get renewed. The court asked them to make representation to the union government which would take a decision as per law. The union government told the SC that these 6,000 NGOs did not apply for renewal of licence while 11,594 NGOs which file renewal have already been granted to operate.

A bench headed Justice AM Khanwilkar asked these NGOs to make representation to the union government that would take decisions as per law.

The plea filed by Global Peace Initiative, an organisation incorporated in Texas, USA, and Dr KA Paul, founder of the organisation, sought direction to the union government to extend the validity of registration of those organisations that had failed to apply for renewal of registration, till such time as Covid-19 continues to be a ‘notified disaster’.

During the hearing, Solicitor-General appearing for the union government, told the apex court that over 11,000 NGOs have already applied for renewal within the cut off time and their registration has been extended.

“In light of the stand taken by the authorities, we do not intend to pass an interim order. Petitioners are free to make representation to the authorities which may be considered by them in according with law,” the Bench stated in its order.

The petition had sought direction to strike down the Public Notice issued on 13 December 2021 to the extent that it does not permit organisations whose applications for renewal of registration have been rejected, to not accept or utilise the foreign funds received.

The cancellation of licences can have a debilitating effect on the Covid-19 relief efforts, said the plea. The petition stated that the role of NGOs in helping combat the has been acknowledged by the union government, the Aayog and the Prime Minister’s office itself and cancellation of the licenses of close to 6,000 NGOs at this time will hamper relief efforts and lead to denial of aid to citizens in need.

It added that at the peak of the second wave, a number of NGOs and bodies had made representations seeking waiver of the requirements of the FCRA, and the MHA had also issued directions in the exercise of powers conferred by Section 50 of the Act, extending the validity of registration of various organisations “in view of the exigencies arising out of Covid-19 situation”.

The plea urged that the same exigencies exist today and the decision to cancel/not renew licenses, therefore, shows a lack of application of mind.

“The work done by these NGOs helped millions of Indians and the sudden and arbitrary cancellation of FCRA registration of thousands of these NGOs violates the rights of the organisations, their workers as well as the millions of Indians who they serve,” it added.

The petition stated that the refusal to renew the license is “ex-facie illegal and liable to be set aside”, and cancellation of the license of a renowned charitable organisation like the Missionaries of Charities on vague grounds such as “adverse inputs” will have a chilling effect on all other NGOs.

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