Delhi HC refuses to stay cancellation of Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative’s foreign fund licence
The court has asked the Centre to file a response to a petition filed by the non-government organisation challenging the home ministry’s decision.
The Delhi High Court on Monday refused to put an interim stay on the Centre’s decision to cancel the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act registration of the non-government organisation Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, PTI reported.
The registration is mandatory for receiving foreign funds.
On April 27, the Union home ministry had cancelled the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, or FCRA registration, of the non-government organisation. Initially, the licence had been suspended for 180 days in June last year. The Centre had issued a show cause notice to the organisation alleging violation of rules.
The suspension was then extended in December for another 180 days, before the foreign funding licence was cancelled in April.
Allegations against CHRI
In the suspension order issued in June 2021, the home ministry had alleged that in 2018-’19, the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative did not provide information in the prescribed format on the activities and projects for which it received foreign funds.
The government had alleged that the organisation had deposited Rs 31.90 lakh in its bank account designated to receive foreign contribution even though it is not covered under the definition of “foreign contribution”.
The government also accused the organisation of not providing online intimation about opening an account in a Delhi branch of the Bank of India, in which it received foreign contributions.
The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative had earlier moved a plea in the Delhi High Court challenging the suspension order. But in February, the court refused to interfere with the Centre’s order. The organisation moved a fresh petition after its licence was cancelled.
On Monday, Senior Advocate CU Singh, appearing on behalf of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, said that the cancellation order does not reflect the response submitted by the organisation to the show cause notice and does not state why the 30-year-old licence had been revoked, The Indian Express reported.
He also urged the court to put an interim stay on the cancellation order, noting that it was a “mere reproduction” of the show cause notice, PTI reported.
However, the court did not grant the relief taking the nature of allegations into consideration. Justice Yashwant Varma directed the Centre to reply to the petition filed by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative.
Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma agreed to file a response on the Centre’s behalf. The matter has been listed for next hearing in September.
The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative is headquartered in Delhi and was founded in 1987. It has published several reports underlining the need for prison reforms and highlighting alleged police excesses.