Delhi HC issues notice to CBI on Harsh Mander's plea seeking quashing of FIR in FCRA Violation Case

Apr 22, 2024

New Delhi [India], April 22 : The Delhi High Court on Monday issued notice to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on a plea moved by activist Harsh Mander and his NGO, the Centre for Equity Studies, which sought quashing of CBI FIR registered against them regarding the allegations of violation of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act.
The bench of Justice Vikas Mahahan sought a response from CBI in the matter and listed it for August 29.
Petitioners sought quashing of the FIR on the grounds that it has been registered after a six-month-long preliminary enquiry reveals no cognizable offence having been committed.
The petitioners stated that as per the said FIR, there are two allegations against the petitioners. Firstly, the allegation made is that the Centre for Equity Studies had transferred Rs 32,71,915/- other than salary/wages/remuneration from its FCRA account in the account of the individual(s) during 2020-21 in violation of the provisions of FCRA 2010. This amount has not been specified to be transferred to any specific individual and the illegality of this has not been pointed out.
On review of the documents submitted over the period of the preliminary enquiry to the CBI, it seems that this is an amount transferred to accountant Avdhesh Kumar which was transferred for administrative purposes including for COVID relief specifically for the purchase of ration kits for distribution to Needy. As such there is nothing illegal about these transfers which are within the purview of uses of FCRA funds and were in fact alone utilized for urgent COVID relief work. This is clearly the reason why the FIR itself makes a vague allegation without getting into any specifics, stated the plea.
The second allegation made in the FIR that the Centre for Equity Studies had diverted an amount of Rs 10/- Lakh (approx.) from its FCRA account through the firm(s) in violation of provisions of FCRA 2010". This allegation is so vague that it cannot possibly make the basis of a criminal investigation. It is not clear as to what the amount is which has been expressed in approximate terms and the allegation of diverting the said approximate amount "through the firm(s)" sheds no light on what the alleged illegalities are, said the petition.
It is pertinent to reiterate that this is not an FIR/RC filed in any kind of haste but the result of a seven-and-a-half-month preliminary enquiry. This FIR is clearly intended to harass and humiliate the petitioners without any legal standard and thus deserves to be quashed, plea claimed.