Delhi HC seeks Centre's stand on challenge to FCRA cancellation by Rajiv Gandhi Trust

Delhi HC seeks Centre's stand on challenge to FCRA cancellation by Rajiv Gandhi Trust

New Delhi, Nov 23 (PTI) The Delhi High Court on Thursday sought the Centre's stand on a plea by the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation challenging cancellation of its Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) licence.

Justice Jasmeet Singh asked the central government to show cause why the appeal by the NGO, headed by Congress leader Sonia Gandhi, should not be admitted and instead be dismissed at this stage itself.

The Centre's lawyer said the plea by the foundation was not maintainable in the form of an appeal and a petition should have been filed.

The counsel for the NGO said the appeal was maintainable under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 and urged the court to issue formal notice on it to the authorities.

The Centre's lawyer said that earlier this year, the high court has already noted that the admission of the appeals required 'further examination'.

Besides the foundation, Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust has also filed an appeal against cancellation of its FCRA licence.

On May 18, a single judge, who was inclined to issue notices, had said it would first hear the issue of maintainability of two pleas by Rajiv Gandhi Foundation (RGF) and Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust (RGCT).

The Ministry of Home Affairs had in October last year cancelled the FCRA licences of the two NGOs for alleged violation of laws.

The action had come following investigations carried out by an inter-ministerial committee formed by the MHA in 2020.

The FCRA licences of RGF and RGCT were cancelled after investigations against these NGOs, an official had earlier said.

The investigators covered alleged manipulation of documents while filing income-tax returns, misuse of funds and money laundering while receiving funds from foreign countries, including China.

Former Congress president Sonia Gandhi is the chairperson of the RGF as well as the RGCT.

The trustees of the RGF are former prime minister Manmohan Singh, former finance minister P Chidambaram, Congress MP Rahul Gandhi, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Suman Dubey and Ashok Ganguly.

The trustees of the RGCT are Rahul Gandhi, Ashok Ganguly, Bansi Mehta and Deep Joshi.

Set up in 1991, the RGF worked on a number of critical issues, including health, science and technology, women and children and disability support, till 2009. It also worked in the education sector, according to its website.

The RGCT was established in 2002 to address the development needs of the underprivileged people of the country, especially the rural poor.

It currently works in the poorest regions of Uttar Pradesh, one of the least developed states in the country, and Haryana through two development initiatives -- the Rajiv Gandhi Mahila Vikas Pariyojana (RGMVP) and the Indira Gandhi Eye Hospital and Research Centre (IGEHRC) -- according to the RGCT website.

The NGOs came under the scanner in July 2020 after the MHA set up an inter-ministerial committee headed by an Enforcement Directorate (ED) officer to probe possible violations of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), the Income Tax Act and the FCRA.

The matter would be heard next in December. PTI ADS ZMN

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