New Delhi: The Delhi High Court sought Union government’s response to a plea filed by Oxfam India – a non-profit organisation – challenging the government’s decision not to renew its registration under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA).
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) was directed by a single-judge bench of Justice Pratibha M. Singh to file a response within four weeks’ time.
The bench listed the matter for the next hearing in April.
Representing the MHA, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Chetan Sharma stated that the government had sufficient material against the NGO, and the decision to suspend its FCRA was based on the same.
Oxfam India was represented by Senior Advocate Ramesh Singh, who stated that they are not being allowed by the government to use Rs 21 crore, which was in their account before the suspension of FCRA registration.
The government had refused to renew Oxfam’s registration in December 2021. A revision application was filed against the order in January 2022, and the petitioner had come to court after months of no decision from the government.
In November 11, 2022, the High Court had ordered the Centre to decide the status of the application in six weeks’ time. The application was then rejected by the MHA through an order passed on December 1 of the same year.
Advocate Prabhsahay Kaur, who had moved NGO’s plea argued that by virtue of the dismissal of the petitioner’s application, the Centre has shut down all available options for them to seek renewal of their registration, amounting to depreciating their work in India.
The plea stated that by rejecting their renewal application, the MHA has turned a blind eye towards the decades of hard work and research done by the petitioner in the social sector.
The plea read: “Rejection of the petitioner’s renewal has not only impacted the petitioner, but also adversely affected, and continues to affect on each day, multiple social projects running in 16 states, impacting 1akhs of people in the country, such as Flood relief, Covid-19 relief, Women Support Centres, providing nutritious meals to underprivileged children, capacity building and training workshops for multiple stakeholders, etc.”
Oxfam has reported to the court that due to the non-renewal of their FCRA license, they were forced to shut down seven regional offices and had to lay off nearly 180 of its 252 employees in the country.
They have also stated that Oxfam currently works in nearly 300 villages and is engaged in 15 significant projects, and due to the suspension of their license, excluding three or four of these projects which are funded through domestic money, rest have come to a halt.
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