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A petition filed in Supreme Court challenging Section 17 of the FCRA

A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of Section 17 of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010, on the grounds that it requires the primary FCRA account to be opened exclusively in a State Bank of India (SBI), main branch in New Delhi as notified by the Central government (Jeevan Jyothi Charitable Trusts v. Union of India). According to the plea, these changes were brought about by the 2020 modification to the FCRA and the issuing of the MHA Notification on 7 October 2020.

As per MHA Notification, people requesting foreign contribution, whether registered or seeking registration/ permission, must prefer applications to open their new designated FCRA account at the SBI, Main Branch in New Delhi. According to the petitioner, such a limitation is restrictive and illegal, and it infringes the petitioner's and its members' right to establish organisations under Article 19(1)(c), as well as their freedom to engage in occupation under Article 19(1)(g). According to the petition, the Central Government issued a Standard Operating Method (SOP) outlining the procedure for creating the account, as well as the process flow for people who already have a certificate of registration/ prior authorization. According to the same, the SBI, Main Branch in New Delhi is required to wait for the Centre to validate the applicant's previous permission/ registration certificate before enabling foreign contribution into the account. As a result of the 2020 Amendment Act, petitioner organisations that are not headquartered in Delhi are obliged to open their principal FCRA account at the SBI, Main Branch in New Delhi. Once this account is established, the only way to run it is through SBI's net banking services. The petition also said that the amendment wrongly assumes that all charity organisations in every area of the nation have access to the sort of infrastructure, energy, and internet supply that will allow them to easily utilise net banking. According to the petitioners, the modifications in the legislation have resulted in operational delays in receiving fund transfers/ withdrawing money or resolving technical difficulties, as well as limiting their option as customers.


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