The Delhi High Court Monday directed the Centre not to take any coercive step against an NGO for not being able to file its annual return as mandated under the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act (FCRA) due to purported technical difficulties in filing the form on the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) portal.
Justice Rekha Palli issued notice to the MHA and asked it to respond to the petition and listed it for further hearing on September 3.
“While issuing notice to respondent no. 1 (MHA), it is directed that no coercive action be taken against the petitioner (NGO) till the next date of hearing,” the court said.
Petitioner Shree Swaminarayan Mandir said it is an NGO carrying out social, devotional, medical and religious charitable activities and it is aggrieved by its inability to file its annual return for Financial Year 2019-20, as mandated under the FCRA due to the technical difficulties in filing form FC-4 electronically on FCRA portal of MHA.
Advocates Manoj Khanna and Rajat Bhatia, appearing for the NGO, said it was impossible for the petitioner to fill out the form FC-4 and comply with the requirements of the law due to the technical issues on the portal.
“A failure to file annual returns within the prescribed timelines, carries dire consequences under the FCRA. It can lead to heavy penalties and even cancellation of registration under the FCRA,” the plea said.
It sought to direct the government to allow the NGO to upload the form FC-4 on the portal to enable it to file the annual returns for the Financial Year-2019-20.
It also sought to direct the authorities to extend the last date of June 30, 2021 for filing of annual returns for financial Year 2019-20 by a period of three months or more from the date on which the FC-4 Form is amended to enable the NGO and other similarly placed entities to file their returns.