The Delhi High Court on Monday refused to grant an interim stay at this stage on the Centre's decision to cancel the FCRA registration of the civil society organisation Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI).

Justice Yashwant Varma sought response from the Centre on the plea by CHRI which alleged that the cancellation is arbitrary.

"Bearing in mind the allegations, (I am) not inclined to grant the stay", the Bench said.

Senior Advocate CU Singh, appearing for the petitioner, urged the Court to grant ad-interim relief in the case and said that the cancellation order is a non-speaking order which merely reproduces the content of the show-cause notice.

Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma, appearing for the Centre, submitted that the petitioner's plea challenging the suspension of its registration was dismissed by the Court earlier this year and the present petition is the second round. Advocate Anil Soni also appeared for the central government.

The FCRA registration of CHRI was suspended by the Centre in June 2021. The Centre in December 2021 had issued a show-cause notice to the petitioner asking why its Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act of 2010 (FCRA) registration should not be cancelled.

The petitioner's certificate of registration was cancelled in April for alleged violation of FCRA on several grounds, including utilization of foreign contribution on activities beyond the scope of the Act, providing incomplete information with respect to the utilisation of funds, etc.

In its petition, the organisation has said that the grounds on which its 30-year-old FCRA registration has been cancelled are wrong, false, incorrect, and/or misconceived. Further, the petition said that the cancellation order was wrong, misconceived, arbitrary, grossly excessive, disproportionate and unreasonable .

It has claimed that there is no violation of the FCRA and that it has a record of excellence and eminence in its core areas of expertise, and a long and demonstrable history of being a valuable resource for the Central and State Governments in India.

The Impugned Cancellation Order has been passed in violation of principles of natural justice. The Respondent has rendered the statutory process of cancellation under S. 14 requiring, notice, hearing, and a reasoned and speaking order devoid of meaning and substance by non-application of mind and by completely overlooking and neglecting to take into account detailed response by the petitioner on each ground of cancellation, the petition said.

The plea further alleged the presence of bias and vindictiveness on the part of the authorities towards the petitioner.

Bias and vindictiveness on the part of the Respondent towards the Petitioner are writ large in Respondent's Impugned Cancellation Order, the initial suspension of Petitioner's FCRA registration, the grounds for which suspension and cancellation were ordered, and the manner in which the statutory process of suspension and cancellation was conducted, it stated.

The matter would be heard next in September.

With PTI inputs