The Centre for Policy Research on Tuesday told the Delhi High Court that it has not been able to pay salaries to its employees since its Foreign Contribution Regulation Act license was suspended by the government in March, PTI reported.

The think tank said that its activities have come to a “grinding halt” and 83 employees have left the organisation.

Under the provisions of the law, non-profit organisations operating in India can receive foreign funds only after they are registered under the FCRA. The suspension of the licence makes nonprofits in the country ineligible to get fresh donations from abroad or use the existing foreign donations without the home ministry’s clearance.

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 March, while suspending its license, the government had said that the action was taken based on the findings submitted by the Income Tax department, which suggested that certain FCRA provisions were not followed by the think tank.

Subsequently, the Centre for Policy Research challenged the order before the Delhi High Court and also submitted an application to the authorities seeking release of 25% of its frozen funds for paying salaries to its employees.

In May, the Delhi High Court stayed proceedings of the Income Tax department against the think tank, saying that the case required examination.

On Tuesday, a single bench of Justice Subramonium Prasad issued a notice to the Centre and asked it to make a decision by September 5 on the organisation’s application seeking release of 25% of its funds, reported Live Law.

The judge noted that three months have passed since the think tank gave certain clarifications to the authorities but no order has been passed on its request.

Senior Advocate Arvind Datar, representing the Centre for Policy Research, argued that the order suspending the FCRA licence was passed without any investigation.

“This is extremely sad,” Datar said. “It is not an ordinary NGO. This is India’s number one think tank. We come under the CAG [Comptroller and Auditor General of India] audit and the Home Ministry audit. The Home Ministry completed its audit in February 2022. The CAG audit was completed in April 2022. All allegations in the show cause notice are of the year 2018, 2019 etc. Everything has been examined by CAG. Nothing wrong [had been] found.”

The counsel representing the Centre said that due procedure is being followed and that the exercise is being carried out diligently by the government.

The court listed the matter for next hearing on September 5.