Delhi HC grants time to Centre to show record concerning suspension of CHRI registration
The Delhi High Court Monday granted time to the Centre to place before it the record pertaining to the temporary suspension of Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative CHRIs registration for alleged violations of foreign contribution law FCRA.Justice Rekha Palli, while hearing CHRIs plea against the suspension, directed that the relevant record be brought to her on a physical hearing day after the senior counsel for the organisation stated that no order of suspension could be passed in the absence of a proceeding for cancellation of registration.When you issue a suspension order, there has to be an enquiry.
The Delhi High Court Monday granted time to the Centre to place before it the record pertaining to the temporary suspension of Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI)'s registration for alleged violations of foreign contribution law FCRA.
Justice Rekha Palli, while hearing CHRI's plea against the suspension, directed that the relevant record be brought to her on a physical hearing day after the senior counsel for the organisation stated that no order of suspension could be passed in the absence of a proceeding for cancellation of registration.
“When you issue a suspension order, there has to be an enquiry. Get the record. In suspension, the challenge is very limited,” the judge told the central government counsel and listed the matter for further hearing on October 28.
Central government lawyer Anil Soni stated that at the time of the issuance of the suspension order, a “preliminary enquiry” had already been initiated as a “questionnaire” was sent to the petitioner and its accounts were also being audited.
He added that the petitioner was “put to notice” by the authorities who have recorded the reasons for the suspension in the order under challenge, and sought time from the court to bring on record the relevant documents.
Senior lawyers Arvind Datar and C U Singh, representing the petitioner, claimed that no proceedings were initiated against the petitioner in terms of the scheme of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA), 2010 and till date, not even a show-cause notice has been issued.
“There is no show-cause or enquiry in the case. 141 days have already gone by out of 180 days (of temporary suspension),” argued Singh.
In 2016, CHRI's registration under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act of 2010 was renewed up to October 31, 2021.
The petition has alleged that the suspension of registration was ''patently without jurisdiction, ultra vires section 13 of the FCRA, unreasonable, manifestly arbitrary, excessive and disproportionate, on the face of it being based on wholly incorrect facts and for violating basic principles of natural justice''.
CHRI has argued that suspension order has ''completely paralysed'' its functioning, ''threatens the livelihood of its employees and casts a stigma on its reputation''.
“A 180-day suspension is a drastic measure that threatens the very existence of CHRI, apart from causing great harm to its reputation built painstakingly over three decades,” the pleas said, adding that the consequent freezing of its receipt and utilisation bank accounts have severely restricted its planned programme activities.
The petition highlighted that CHRI's current Executive Committee has a “galaxy of legal luminaries, former top police officials, environmental leaders” and Wajahat Habibullah, the first Chief Information Commissioner of India, is its Chairperson.
The allegations against CHRI include mixing foreign contribution with domestic donation and non-intimation of specific accounts.
In July, the court had permitted the petitioner to utilise a portion of its funds in the Central government's custody for the payment of salaries to employees and personnel associated with its ongoing projects.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)