A petition has been filed before the Supreme Court challenging the Central government's decision to refuse renewal of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) licenses of close to 6,000 NGOs [Global Peace Initiative v. Union of India]..The petition filed by NGO Global peace Global Peace Initiative has also prayed for a direction to be issued to the Central government to exempt all NGOs from the purview of FCRA during the COVID-19 period.The plea further sought quashing of the public notice dated December 31, 2021 to the extent it does not permit NGOs whose applications for renewal of FCRA licenses were rejected, from receiving or utilising foreign funds. Senior Advocate Sanjay Hedge mentioned the matter before Justice AM Khanwilkar and the matter is likely to be listed on Monday, January 24. Justice Khanwilkar led-Bench had earlier heard the petitions challenging 2020 amendments to FCRA. The Foreign Contributions (Regulation) Act requires NGOs to apply for a license with the Union Home Ministry to receive funds for its functions from abroad, along with a slew of other conditions on its use. The petitioner in the instant case is a Texas-based organisation which has worked with several organisations in India, including the Missionaries of Charity associated with late Mother Teresa, to serve windows and orphans. The plea, filed through advocate Aditya Jain, said that the sudden cancellation of FCRA license amounts to a violation of the rights of the NGOs and the millions of Indians whom they serve. "The work done by these NGOs helped millions of Indians. The sudden and arbitrary cancellation of FCRA registration of thousands of these NGOs violates the rights of the organizations, their workers as well as the millions of Indians who they serve. This is especially relevant at a time when the country is facing the third wave of the Covid-19 virus," the petition stated.It also highlighted that a batch of petitions Noel Harper & Ors. v. Union of India & Anr. challenging the 2020 amendment to the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 are pending before the Supreme Court.The 2020 amendments prohibit transfer of foreign funds (Section 7); require Aadhaar as identification for prior approval, registration etc (Section 12A) and mandate opening of FCRA primary account exclusively in a branch of State Bank of India in New Delhi notified by the Centre (Section 17).The Supreme Court had reserved its verdict in matter but it is yet to be pronounced.Stating that any cancellation in licenses will have a chilling effect on NGOs, the petition pointed out that even in the case of the renewal application for the Missionaries of Charity, the same was rejected on the basis of “adverse inputs” though “adverse inputs” cannot be a ground for refusal/cancellation or non-renewal of registration under FCRA.Despite the same, it appears that the Union Home Ministry has relied on the non-fulfilment of the same provisions under challenge to cancel/refuse renewal of FCRA of NGOs, the plea stated. "It is humbly submitted that the refusal to renew the license is ex-facie illegal and liable to be set aside," it was contended.The petitioner has made, inter alia, the following prayers:- Issue an appropriate Writ, Order or Direction, quashing the decisions/orders of the Respondent vide which it has refused the renewal of the FCRA registration/cancelled the registration of close to 6000 NGOs.- Issue an appropriate Writ, Order or Direction, striking down 20 the Public Notice dated 31.12.2021 to the extent that it does not permit organizations whose applications for renewal of registration have been rejected, to not accept or utilize the foreign funds received- Issue an appropriate Writ in the nature of mandamus, directing the Central Government to exercise its powers under Section 50 of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 and exempt all Non-Government Organizations from the operation of the Act, till such time as Covid-19 continues to be a ‘notified disaster’ under the Disaster- Issue an appropriate Writ, Order or Direction directing he Respondent to extend the validity of registration of those organizations that had failed to apply for renewal of registration, till such time as Covid-19 continues to be a ‘notified disaster’ under the Disaster. .The Supreme Court had in March 2020 held that an organisation cannot be deprived of its right to receive foreign funding by being declared a political organization merely because it uses legitimate means of dissent for public causes.The Central government in defending the 2020 amendments to the Act, which among other things put a cap on the percentage of foreign funds that could be used for administrative expenses, had said in the apex court that the right to life and liberty under Article 21 does not encompass the right to receive unregulated foreign contributions.In that matter, the top court had observed that the activities of NGOs were being stalled by virtue of these amendments.Note: An earlier version of the story incorrectly mentioned that the plea was mentioned before Chief Justice of India NV Ramana. The error is regretted.