HC to pass order on Monday on Centre for Policy Research’s plea to utilise portion of its funds

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday said it will pass an order on Monday on a plea moved by suspended public think-tank Centre for Policy Research (CPR) seeking permission to utilise a portion of its funds in fixed deposits towards the payment of salaries of its employees.

The plea forms part of the organisation’s petition challenging the suspension of its FCRA licence over alleged violation of laws.

“Monday pronouncement for order only on application,” said Justice Subramonium Prasad as he reserved verdict.

The CPR, represented by senior advocate Arvind Datar, has earlier argued that according to the rules framed under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), when the certificate of registration is suspended, up to 25 per cent of the “unutilised amount” — which was the fixed deposit amount in the instant plea — lying with the organisation may be spent for certain aims and objects.

The Centre has opposed the application with its lawyer arguing before Justice Prasad that “unutilised amount” means an amount that is “unspent” and funds in fixed deposits are outside its ambit.

“(List for) pronouncement,” the court said after hearing the lawyer.

On the last occasion, the court had asked the Centre as to state the prejudice that would be caused to the authorities if the petitioner’s request was allowed.

The Centre’s lawyer had said the CPR “was not the only one” and changing the definition of “unutilised amount” would have “huge ramifications”.

The Centre had suspended the organisation’s FCRA licence on February 27. In March, the CPR gave an application to the authorities seeking the release of 25 per cent of its funds for paying the salaries of its employees.

In response to the petition by organisation against the decision, the Centre has alleged that the CPR was receiving and using foreign contribution for “purposes other than for which it was registered” as well as for “undesirable purposes”.

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It has also said that the activities of the petitioner’s foreign funding had to be stopped with immediate effect in order to safeguard the country’s economic interests and prevent misutilisation of funding.

The FCRA licence of the CPR was last renewed in 2016 and was due for renewal in 2021.

In a statement, the CPR had earlier said the Ministry of Home Affairs had intimated it that its registration under the FCRA was suspended for a period of 180 days.

In September 2022, the income-tax department conducted a survey at the organisation’s premises and as part of the follow-up process, the CPR received several notices from the department, it had said.

With the suspension of its FCRA licence, the organisation is not able to receive any funds from abroad.

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