‘Clear stand on utilisation of funds till suspension is revoked’
The Delhi High Court on Monday sought response from the Centre on a petition by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) challenging the suspension of its registration for 180 days for alleged violations of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA).
The High Court also granted time to the Centre’s counsel to get instructions on permitting the CHRI to utilise 25% of the amount received as foreign funding till the suspension of its registration is revoked. The court also asked the Centre’s counsel to take instructions if it would allow CHRI to receive foreign fund in the future, subject to not utilising them without permission of the authorities or of the court.
180 days’ time
During the hearing, Central government standing counsel Anil Soni said as per the rules, they have 180 days’ time to respond to the NGO seeking to revoke the suspension order.
Justice Rekha Palli, however, said, “I am not going to give you this endless time of 180 days”.
The CHRI had moved the court challenging a June 7 order passed by the Home Ministry, suspending its registration for 180 days.
CHRI’s counsel said that the suspension order is contrary to the framework of the scheme set out under the Act and even the suspension was passed without initiating any inquiry and is liable to be set aside.
The NGO has said that the suspension order was “unreasonable, manifestly arbitrary, excessive and disproportionate, on the face of it being based on wholly incorrect facts and for violating basic principles of natural justice”.
The NGO said the suspension order has “completely paralysed” its functioning, “threatens the livelihood of its employees and casts a stigma on its reputation”.
“A 180-day suspension is a drastic measure that threatens the very existence of the petitioner [CHRI], apart from causing great harm to its reputation built painstakingly over three decades. The consequent freezing of petitioner’s receipt and utilisation bank accounts have severely restricted its planned programme activities,” the petition stated.
The CHRI said it was not in a position to pay salaries to its 40 members and consultants, whose livelihoods depend on it, especially, in these difficult times precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
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