The Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to hear a petition challenging the Centre’s refusal to renew the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, or FCRA, licences of approximately 6,000 non-profit organisations, Live Law reported. The court will take up the matter on January 24.

Petitioner Global Peace Initiative has asked the court to direct the Centre to exempt humanitarian organisations from the purview of FCRA till Covid-19 continues to be a “notified disaster”, reported Bar and Bench.

An FCRA registration is a mandatory requirement for non-profit organisations to be able to receive foreign funds. On January 1, the registrations of 5,933 organisations lapsed as either they did not apply for renewal, or the home ministry refused to sanction their applications.

Global Peace Initiative in its petition said that the sudden cancellation of FCRA licences is a violation of non-profit organisations’ rights.

“Cancellation of licences close to 6,000 NGOs at this time will hamper relief efforts and lead to denial of aid to citizens in need,” the petition read.

The non-profit organisation also said that “adverse inputs” cannot be the reason for refusing or not renewing FCRA licences, Bar and Bench reported.

The licence renewal application of Missionaries of Charity, an organisation founded by Mother Teresa, was rejected by the Centre citing adverse inputs, the petitioners claimed.

The home ministry had said that the NGO’s application was rejected for failing to meet eligibility conditions. However, on January 8, Missionaries of Charity was added to the list of 1,030 NGOs eligible to receive foreign funding in West Bengal.

In March 2020, the Supreme Court had said that an organisation’s right to receive foreign funding can be cancelled because it uses dissent for public causes.

The Centre in its defending argument said that Article 21, which guarantees right to life and liberty, does not include the right to receive unregulated foreign contributions.

Also read: In India, NGOs fear government takeover of foreign funds already collected