The Delhi High Court has stayed proceedings of the Income Tax department against the Centre for Policy Research think tank, Bar and Bench reported on Monday.

The order was passed by a division bench of Justices Rajiv Shakdher and Girish Kathpalia on May 24.

The Delhi-based think tank had challenged the notices issued to it had received under sections related to the Income Tax Act.

“According to us, the matter requires examination,” the judges said last week. “...There shall be a stay on the continuation of the reassessment proceedings, till further directions of the court.”

Founded in 1973, the Centre for Policy Research describes itself as a “non-partisan, independent institution dedicated to conducting research that contributes to high-quality scholarship, better policies, and a more robust public discourse about the issues that impact life in India”.

In September, the think tank, along with the non-governmental organisation Oxfam India and the Independent and Public Spirited Media Foundation in Bengaluru, were raided by the Income Tax department.

In March, the Ministry of Home Affairs suspended the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act licence of the Centre for Policy Research for 180 days. The ministry said that the action was taken based on the findings submitted by the Income Tax department, which suggested that certain provisions of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act were not followed by the think tank.

During Wednesday’s hearing, Senior Advocate Arvind P Datar, appearing for the Centre for Policy Research, contended that the Income Tax department did not furnish the entire survey report to the think tank even though it formed the basis for triggering the reassessment proceedings, reported The Indian Express.

He also argued that amended Section 149 of the Income Tax Ac – which came into force on April 1, 2022 – has been applied against his client even when the transactions in question are from 2016-’17.

Section 149(1)(b) states that in specific cases where the assessing officer has in his possession evidence that income escaping assessment amounts to Rs 50 lakh or more, notices can be sent beyond three years but not more than 10 years.

The High Court said that prima facie it agreed with Datar’s submission and issued a notice to the Income Tax department. It will hear the case next on November 22.

Also read: Action against think tank CPR will hurt research in India, say international scholars