The Delhi High Court on Tuesday asked the Central Government to respond to a plea by think tank NGO, the Centre for Policy Research (CPR), challenging the suspension of its Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) licence over alleged violation of laws.
Justice Subramonium Prasad asked the Centre to decide by September 5 the CPR’s application seeking release of 25% of its funds. The judge noted that three months have passed since the organisation gave certain clarifications to the authorities but no order on its request had been passed yet.
The Centre had suspended the FCRA licence of the CPR on February 27 this year following which the NGO in March submitted an application to the authorities seeking release of 25% of its frozen funds for paying salaries to its employees.
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The High Court was informed that as per Rule 14 of FCRA Rules when the certificate of registration is suspended, up to 25% of the unutilised amount may be spent with the prior approval of the Central Government for ‘declared aims and objects’ for which the foreign contribution was received.
The Centre’s counsel said that after getting the application the authorities asked for records and replies which they gave only on May 15.
Senior advocate Arvind Datar, representing the CPR, argued that the order suspending the licence was passed without any inquiry. He asked for the funds be released as an interim measure to enable the public policy think tank to pay salary to its employees who have not been paid for the last six months.
The counsel said the organisation’s operations had come to a grinding halt in the last six months and 83 scientists and employees had left the NGO. He said that without foreign contributions, the CPR would be forced to shut down.
The Ministry of Home Affairs has suspended the FCRA licence of the CPR over alleged violation of funding laws. The FCRA licence of the CPR was last renewed in 2016 and was due for renewal in 2021.