Supreme Court Turns Down Plea to Extend Lapsed FCRA Licenses of NGOs

The Supreme Court on Tuesday denied an application for interim relief to allow the continuation of FCRA licenses of organizations that were valid as of 30.09.2021, despite the submission of the Solicitor General of India that the registrations of 11,594 NGOs who applied within the cut-off date had been extended. The PIL was filed in response to the expiration of over 6000 NGOs’ licenses under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act.

Senior Advocate Sanjay Hegde, representing the petitioner-NGO, requested an alternate order allowing NGOs to extend their FCRA licenses if they apply within the next two weeks.

The interim relief was denied by a bench consisting of Justice AM Khanwilkar, Justice CT Ravikumar, and Justice Dinesh Maheshwari. The petitioner may make a representation to the authorities if it has any suggestions, and the authorities may evaluate them on their merits, according to the bench.

Based on directions from the Ministry of Home Affairs, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta informed the bench that the FCRA licenses of 11,594 NGOs who applied for renewal within the cut-off period had been extended.

The petitioner-location organizations were also questioned by the Solicitor General, who stated that a “Houston-based group should not be bothered with this.” “I’m not sure what this PIL’s function is. Something isn’t right “, according to the SG.

“...we have heard the counsel for the parties on interim relief. The petitioners have sought interim directions that all organizations whose FCRA license was valid as of 30.09.2021 ought to continue until further orders. In response, the learned Solicitor General on instructions submits that 11, 594 NGOs who already applied within the cut-off time and their registration have been extended for time being. In the light of this stand taken by the authorities, we don’t intend to pass any interim order as prayed. If the petitioners have any other suggestion, they may file a representation before authorities which may be considered on its own merits by the authorities.”

Following the Court’s decision on the petitions challenging the FCRA modifications, the writ petition will be considered.

Global Peace Initiative, an organization incorporated in the state of Texas, United States of America, with offices all over the world, including in India, and Dr. KA Paul, an evangelist and founder of the petitioner Organization, submitted the petition.

The petitioners had asked the Court to order the Central Government to use its powers under Section 50 of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 to exempt all Non-Governmental Organizations from the Act’s provisions until Covid-19 is declared a “notified disaster” under the Disaster Management Act.

It was also asserted that the activities of these NGOs aided millions of Indians and that the “sudden and arbitrary cancellation” of thousands of these NGOs’ FCRA registrations violated the rights of the organizations, their employees, and the millions of Indians they serve.

The Central Government, the Niti Aayog Aayog, and the Prime Minister’s office have all recognized the role of NGOs in helping to combat the pandemic, according to the petition.

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