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Delhi High Court issues notice to SBI’s FCRA Cell on NGO plea

The NGO's counsel said it is unable to accept any foreign contributions or funding, in the meantime, which is jeopardizing its actions, given the dire situation of the pandemic.

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The Delhi High Court bench of Justice Prathiba M. Singh issued notice in a plea filed by an NGO which sought an extension of the March 31 deadline for opening an account under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 regulations.

The plea said the NGO, Christian Educational Society, had wanted to open its FCRA bank account in State Bank of India, New Delhi in terms of amendments to Section 17 of the FCR Act.The last date as per the notification dated October 13, 2020 for submitting the application to open FCRA bank account was April 1, 2021. The NGO alleged that it submitted its documents to the SBI, New Delhi on March 25, 2021. But certain defects were raised in respect to the application and SBI communicated this to the NGO on March 27 and on April 8. Thereafter, it is alleged, that the NGO’s representative located in Delhi submitted all hard copies of the documents that are required for the said application and to open the FCRA account in SBI, Delhi.

Due to the pandemic, there has been some delay in the said submission of documents, and possibly even in the processing of the same by the SBI. The NGO’s counsel submitted that an extension may be granted for opening the said FCRA account beyond March 31. The counsel expressed that the NGO is unable to accept any foreign contributions or funding, in the meantime, which is jeopardizing its actions, given the dire situation of the pandemic, and need for such funding to provide social and economic help to the needy.

The SBI counsel sought time from the bench to take instructions as to how long the bank would take to open FCRA account of the said NGO.

Read Also: West Bengal govt moves Supreme Court seeking free Covid vaccine across the country

The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act regulates the receipt of foreign contribution or aid from outside India for use in the country. This is essential to ensure that such aid does not effect political or any other situation in India. For genuine donation, the provision of law is not very difficult to comply. The compliance is limited to filing annual return every year. This law is enforced by the Ministry of Home Affairs. There is a separate section in the MHA to ensure compliance to the Foreign Funding Registration.

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