The Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to hear a plea challenging a Ministry of Home Affairs notification issued on May 18, 2021, which gave time to NGOs to comply with specific provisions of the Foreign Contribution Regulation (Amendment) Act (FCRA), 2020.
The plea, filed by Noel Harpar and others, urged the top court to issue directions to the Centre and the Niti Ayog to strictly maintain and monitor the directory of the NGOs receiving foreign contributions, arguing that this process will restrain NGOs “from adopting dubious activities in the cover of the ongoing pandemic”.
Through the notification, the MHA also validated the licence of NGOs and individuals till September 2021. It also extended the deadline of opening bank accounts at designated branch of the State Bank of India.
A bench of Justices A.M. Khanwilkar, Hrishikesh Roy, and C.T. Ravikumar agree to examine the plea on September 7.
The petitioners sought directions to Centre to not further extend the deadline for opening bank accounts under Section 17 of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 2010 in the notified SBI branch in the capital.
The plea alleged many instances of misappropriation of funds by NGOs. It further alleged under the cover of Covid relief work, they are involved in religious conversion, and may try to divert funds for those activities.
The plea also sought directions to ensure that the Centre does not extend the validity of registration certificates issued to the NGOs under the FCRA beyond September 30, 2021.
The petitioners claimed that some of the NGOs misused the funds, by evading the provisions of the FCRA.