NOEL HARPER V. UNION OF INDIA

COURT: The Supreme Court of India

CORAM: A. M. Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and C.T. Ravikumar, JJ.

DATE OF JUDGEMENT: 8 April 2022

FACTS

Petitioners challenged the constitutional validity of the revisions to the provisions of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 made by the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Act, 2020, under Article 32 of the Indian Constitution.

The petitioner argued that Sections 7, 12(1A), 12A, and 17(1) were obviously arbitrary and unreasonable, infringing on the petitioners’ fundamental rights as provided by Articles 14, 19, and 21 of the Constitution.

ISSUE RAISED

Whether of the revisions to the provisions of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 made by the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Act are Constitutionally valid?

JUDGEMENT

The Supreme Court concluded that Sections 7, 12(1A), 12A, and 17 of the 2010 Act are intra vires the Constitution and the Principal Act, upholding the constitutional legitimacy of the FCRA 2020 Amendments (FCRA, 2010). The Supreme Court praised the Parliament for using corrective dispensation to put an end to the calamity, which no sovereign country can afford.

The Court stated that just because a registered association is required to open an FCRA account in a designated bank at a centralised location for the receipt/inflow of foreign contributions from foreign sources, this condition is not plainly arbitrary or irrational.

It is a one-time activity to be completed in order to obtain approval from the Central Government to be a certified association or individual given permission to receive foreign contributions as a precondition under the Act. As a result, sections 12(1A) and 17 of the Constitution do not violate Articles 14, 19, or 21.

The modified Section 7 of the FCRA makes it illegal to transfer foreign contributions to anyone else, even if they have a certificate of registration under the Act. In other words, a person who has been awarded a certificate or has secured prior authorisation under the Act to receive foreign contributions will be compelled to use the funds “itself” rather than via anybody else.

The legislative objective is to establish strict dispensation for the beneficiary of a foreign contribution to use the same “itself” for the purposes for which it has been approved by the Central Government under the Act’s certificate of registration or licence.

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