Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Act 2010: A case of over-regulation or need of hour? - The Daily Guardian
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Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Act 2010: A case of over-regulation or need of hour?

Sharad Abhyankar Vanita Bhargava and Milind Sharma

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Since its notification on 29 September 2020, the Foreign Contribution Regulation Amendment Act (“FCRA Amendment”) has been in the news for many reasons. Before we look at the amendments carried out in 2020, it would be appropriate to have a look at the historical context of this law which has been in the statute book for about 45 years. The Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 1976 (“FCRA 1976”) was the first law to regulate the acceptance and utilisation of foreign contribution or foreign hospitality by certain persons or associations, with a view to ensuring that parliamentary institutions, political associations and academic and other voluntary organisations, as well as individuals working in the important areas of national life, may function in a manner consistent with the values of a sovereign democratic republic, and for matters connected therewith. Like many other laws, the stakeholders faced many difficulties in complying with the provisions of FCRA 1976. In order to bring greater transparency in the dealings in foreign contribution and acceptance of foreign hospitality, the law was substantially overhauled and was substituted by the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 2010 (“FCRA 2010”).

While some of the provisions of FCRA 1976 required some rethinking, the extent of remodelling the law was clear from the preamble of FCRA 2010. One of the prominent objects of FCRA 2010 was to prohibit acceptance and utilisation of foreign contribution and foreign hospitality for any activities detrimental to the national interest. The radical change of the legislative mindset from ‘regulation’ to ‘prohibition’ was mired in political undertones. The new law emphasised defining restrictions on negative attributes and departed from enabling persons working in important areas of national life to function with values enshrined in the Constitution of India.

The ambit of FCRA 2010 is pervasive and all-encompassing in the field of foreign funding in the voluntary and social sector. It also provides the executive with power, to enforce a system of checks and balances.

At the outset it should be noted that under Section 3 of the FCRA 2010, the following persons are prohibited from accepting foreign contribution or foreign hospitality: candidates for election; correspondents, columnists, cartoonists, editors, owners, printers or publishers of news in print, audio or audio-visual or electronic communication mode; judges, Government servants or employees of any corporation or any other body controlled or owned by the Government; members of any legislature; any political party or office bearer thereof; organisations of a political nature; associations or companies engaged in the production or broadcast of audio news or audio-visual news or current affairs programmes through any electronic mode; individuals or associations which have been prohibited from receiving foreign contribution.

FCRA 2010 also empowers the Central Government to notify any organisation as an organisation of ‘political nature’. Further, the organisations registered under FCRA 2010 are mandated to renew their certification every five years.

While the changes revealed a paradigm shift, the obedience of this law has been dismal over the past several years. Needless to say, this has resulted in the cancellation of a significant percentage of registrations by the Ministry of Home Affairs, the governing ministry under FCRA 2010. As of October 2020, out of a total of 49,861 organisations registered under FCRA 2010, only 22,427 i.e. less than 45% are active as of date! Many organisations registered under FCRA 2010 have failed in submitting the returns for several years and their registrations have been either suspended or cancelled. Several organisations have also failed in periodically renewing their registrations, a feature which was introduced only in 2010. Organisations registered under FCRA 2010 have therefore suffered a lack of credibility due to the apathy towards compliance.

In order to enhance transparency, streamline and monitor the funds received by the organisations registered under FCRA 2010, and weed out the entities which were not utilising the foreign contribution for the purpose it was received, the recent amendment was brought about.

The FCRA Amendment Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha on 21 September 2020, by Rajya Sabha on 23 September 2020, and received the assent of the President on 28 September 2020. On 29 September 2020, it was published in the Official Gazette of India and notified on the same day.

The major changes brought upon by the recent amendment include:

• As noted above, Section 3 of FCRA 2010 includes the list of persons who are prohibited from receiving the contribution. The list has now been amended to include a ‘public servant’ as defined under the Indian Penal Code, 1860. Such addition will primarily prohibit persons, in the service or pay-roll of the Government or remunerated by fees or commission for the performance of any public duty for the Government, from receiving any foreign contribution. The amendment appears to be based on the presumption that acceptance of foreign contribution by such persons may prevent rational decision-making by those discharging public duty. It is also expected to prevent such public servants from being influenced by funding organisations in any manner.

• Section 7 of the FCRA 2010 has been amended to prohibit the transfer of any foreign contribution received by organisation registered under FCRA 2010 to any other entity including those who are also registered under FCRA 2010. Previously, such transfer of foreign contribution by person registered under FCRA 2010 to another person registered under FCRA 2010 was permitted. A transfer to organisation which was not registered under FCRA 2010 was permitted only after obtaining express approval from the government. All forms of transfer of foreign contribution are now disallowed without an exception. This amendment seeks to restrict NGOs from acting as fundraisers for other NGOs. It is pertinent to note that the Ministry of Home Affairs has been emphasising the need for utilisation of funds for the purpose of the grant and not deviating from such objective. It is apprehended that this amendment would severely impact the availability of resources at the grass-root level. In our view, this apprehension is somewhat misplaced. The law intends to prohibit “transfer” of foreign contribution and not de-legitimatise “utilisation”. An organisation registered under FCRA 2010 can certainly collaborate with other NGOs to fulfil its objective and use the foreign contribution for its purpose. Surely, some of the past foreign contribution utilisation practices and procedures will need to be realigned with the new normal under the amended FCRA regime.

• Section 8 of the FCRA 2010, has been amended whereby the deployment of foreign contribution towards ‘administrative expenses’ has been reduced from 50% to 20%. Rule 5 under Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Rules, 2011 prescribes what constitutes “administrative expenses”. Permitted administrative expenses include salaries, wages, travel expenses of the members of the Executive Committee or Governing Council; all expenses towards hiring and salaries, wages or any kind of remuneration paid (including the cost of travel) to personnel for management of the NGO activities; all expenses related to consumables like electricity and water charges, telephone charges, postal charges, repairs to premise(s) for NGO’s office; rent of premises, repairs to premises and expenses on other utilities; stationery and printing charges, office equipment, transport and travel charges of the members of the Executive Committee or Governing Council; the cost of accounting for and administering funds; expenses towards running and maintenance of vehicles; the cost of writing and filing reports; and legal and professional charges.

The purpose of such an amendment is to prevent the misuse of foreign contribution by some entities and to promote utilisation of such funds towards the objective of the grant as noted in their registration. The amendment would not only improve the transparency of utilisation of foreign contribution but also bring additional comfort to the contributors of funds that a substantial portion of their contribution will indeed be utilised for the stated objective and purpose. Considering that under the Companies Act, 2013, only 5% of the CSR contribution can be attributed to the administrative expenses of the NGOs, a 20% limit gives a reasonable budget for the NGO to be run professionally.

• Amendment to section 11 of FCRA 2010 introduces a summary enquiry procedure that can result in restriction on unutilised foreign contribution even when the enquiry is pending if the Central Government has a reason to believe that any entity registered under FCRA 2010 has contravened the provisions of FCRA 2010, based on any information or report. Such utilisation or receipt of remaining foreign contribution can now be done only after approval from the Central Government. The said amendment appears to be preventive in nature and empowers the Central Government to prevent illegal receipt and utilisation of foreign contribution at the initial stage itself. Pertinently, such power is already conferred on the Central Government under Section 13 of FCRA which deals with the suspension of the license under FCRA 2010, pending inquiry for contravention of FCRA 2010.

• The FCRA Amendment also enables an organisation registered under FCRA 2010 to voluntarily surrender its registration under the FCRA regime pursuant to the provisions of new Section 14A. Such surrender of registration would only be allowed by the Central Government if is satisfied that the said entity has not contravened any provisions of the FCRA after due inquiry and any asset received as the foreign contribution is vested to the authority designated under Section 15 of FCRA 2010. This shall help the entities to exit in an orderly manner when the purpose for which such entity was formed is fulfilled or has been rendered useless for any reason. Further, as the unutilised money shall remain with the designated authority, it shall become its responsibility to utilise it for the purposes which are in the interest of the nation.

• Another major amendment pertains to the maintenance of designated bank accounts for receiving foreign contribution under FCRA 2010. While the FCRA regime always required the foreign contribution to be received in a specified bank account notified by the authority under FCRA 2010, it was noticed that many NGOs had defaulted in updating their bank accounts, or in some cases, the banks lagged in upgrading the system for core banking facilities. In February 2017, the Ministry of Home Affairs had published a list of more than 3700 NGOs registered under FCRA 2010 who failed in maintaining bank accounts with core banking facility. Accordingly, in order to streamline the monitoring of the fund flow of foreign contribution received in India, section 17 of the FCRA 2010 was amended. On or before 31 March 2021, every entity registered under FCRA 2010 would be required to open a designated FCRA Account with State Bank of India, New Delhi Main Branch at 11, Sansad Marg, New Delhi – 110 001. The Central Government has clarified that the entities registered under FCRA 2010 will be permitted to operate their existing FCRA accounts in other banks up to the opening of the FCRA designated account with State Bank of India or 31 March 2021 whichever is earlier. Further, the foreign contribution can be transferred by the entity registered under FCRA 2010 in any other account for the utilisation of such funds. The amendment would enable the Central Government to track the inflow of foreign contribution more effectively in an orderly manner. In order to remove practical challenges faced by NGOs, the Central Government has clarified that the NGOs need not visit the New Delhi main branch of the SBI. Instead, they may approach the nearest SBI branch (or any other branch of their choice) for taking action with regard to opening their new account with the SBI.

• Most of the countries in the world recognise that companies, limited liability partnerships, or trusts can continue to function in an opaque manner. Therefore, it has become necessary for the Central Government to know the natural persons who control or manage such companies, societies or trusts. Continuing to comply with India’s international obligations, the FCRA Amendment now imposes stricter KYC norms on the office bearers or directors while seeking registration or renewal of registration under the FCRA regime. The office bearers or directors or other key functionaries are required to provide their Aadhaar number issued under the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016, or a copy of their passport or Overseas Citizen of India Card, in case of non-residents.

• Lastly, the FCRA Amendment would permit the Central Government to suspend the registration under FCRA 2010 for a period of 360 days instead of the erstwhile limit of 180 days. Any such executive powers cannot be exercised arbitrarily, and any such actions will continue to be subject to judicial review by courts.

By the time this article is published, a month would have elapsed since the notification of the FCRA Amendment. It is quite concerning that the Standard Operating Practice (“SOP”) for opening and operating the FCRA Accounts with State Bank of India has not been published. The NGOs will find it difficult to scramble compliance with the new procedures if there is any further delay in issuance of the SOP.

On the whole, the message is loud and clear, the NGOs receiving foreign contribution have to show greater transparency and respect the stricter compliance regime. The NGOs should also ensure they follow the best practices recommended by the Ministry of Home including:

• conducting appropriate due diligence about the foreign donor and the terms of the grant to ensure that no legal provisions are contravened;

accepting foreign contribu• tion only if the institution is registered under FCRA 2010 and the registration is subsisting in accordance with applicable law;

• ensuring that the institution is compliant with ongoing obligations, such as reporting and filing returns with the Ministry of Home Affairs to avoid suspension or prohibitory orders;

not deviating from the ob• jects of the institution;

not deviating from the purpose of the specific grant;

• not encouraging cash withdrawals;

• not transferring foreign contribution to other persons except as set out in the purpose of the grant; and

• not using the foreign contribution account for any domestic receipts.

The Ministry of Home Affairs on its part has come forward by issuing an advisory to the FCRA registered NGOs and announced that the funds received in their FCRA accounts, in State Bank of India, can be transferred to the other accounts of the organisation for utilisation or investments. It is pertinent that the Ministry of Home Affairs actively discourages FCRA registered institutions from investing foreign contribution in mutual funds or other speculative investments.

As noted above, the amendment to FCRA 2010 has been brought by the Central Government to strengthen the compliance mechanism and enhance transparency and accountability. Further, it gives power to the Central Government and authorities to clamp down on errant entities that do not follow the law as laid down under FCRA 2010. Vide this amendment, the Central Government/ authorities can effectively put a stay on utilisation of funds received under FCRA 2010 even if it has been received when the registration was effective though only after having reason to suspect that there is a contravention of the law and after an inquiry including the summary inquiry. This is a welcome change as such action was not clear under pre-amendment FCRA 2010 and such a bar could have been put only when the registration under FCRA 2010 was suspended. Since this is a matter of improving the checks and balances, it is expected that while taking such coercive action against an entity, the Central Government/ authority shall pass a speaking order which will give a chance to the alleged errant entity to put forward its case as well.

Like most other legislations at work, effective execution and implementation is the key to the success of the new FCRA regime in the social sector. It is also hoped that the new law will bring a new spirit of compliance-oriented NGOs to bring a lasting impression and measurable impact on the Indian social sector.

The authors are advocates at Khaitan & Co. Sharad Abhyankar (Partner) is part of the corporate practice at Mumbai, Vanita Bhargava (Partner) and Milind Sharma (Associate) are part of the Dispute Resolution Practice at Delhi.

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GAUHATI HIGH COURT QUASHES NO-CONFIDENCE MOTION AGAINST GRAM PANCHAYAT PRESIDENT CITING PARTICIPATION OF MEMBER DISQUALIFIED FOR HAVING THREE CHILDREN

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The Gauhati High Court in the case Jugitawali Pawe v State of Assam and 15 ors observed and quashed a resolution expressing no-confidence in the petitioner – the President of a Gram Panchayat, as a result of which she as removed from office. It was stated that it is as per the citing no compliance with Assam Panchayat Act, 1994, reading with Rule 62 of the Assam Panchayat (Constitution) Rules, 1995.

It was preferred by the petitioner to the materials available on record to argue that one of the members of the Gaon Panchayat, the respondent. The respondent voted against the petitioner and had given birth to her third child the previous year. Moreover, by virtue of Section 111(2)(a) of the Assam Panchayat Act, 1994, reading with Rule 62 of the Assam Panchayat (Constitution) Rules, 1995, the petitioner stood automatically disqualified on the date of voting. Following, which her vote was taken by passing No-confidence motion.

It was prayed by the petitioner in the plea for setting aside the impugned resolution and for issuance of a direction to restore his client back in the office. Thereafter, to initiate fresh proceedings, liberty should be granted to the respondent, following the due process.

It was agreed by the Counsel representing for the respondent that the said member of the panchayat had been disqualified but retained on the ground that the disqualification would have no bearing on the petitioner’s case, as the impugned resolution was passed before the declaration of petitioner disqualification.

In the present case, It was noticed by Justice Suman Shyam the member had voted against the petitioner and without her vote. The petitioner would not have been ousted from office. Justice Shyam also found no dispute about the fact that the member had incurred disqualification under the law prior the date of adoption of the impugned resolution. Justice Shyam found it unnecessary to delve into other aspects of the matter which includes the procedural formalities for declaring the member a disqualified candidate.

It is observed that the impugned resolution was declared to be vitiated and liable to be set aside. Further, the Court restored the petitioner to the office of the President of the Bongalmara Gaon Panchayat with immediate effect and it was stated by the court that the order will not stand in the way should the authorities or any member of the Gaon Panchayat propose a fresh motion of “no-confidence” against the petitioner and the due process of law needs to be followed.

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Halt DDA’s demolition action against jhuggis in Nizamuddin’s Gyaspur area, orders Delhi High Court

As per the JJ Rehabilitation and Relocation Policy 2015 and the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board, the residents who can establish their residence prior to 01.01.2015 are eligible for rehabilitation under the JJ Rehabilitation and Relocation Policy 2015.

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plea in Delhi High Court seeking repatriation of 56 pregnant nurses

The Delhi High Court in the case Manoj Gupta & Ors. v. DDA & Ors observed and has ordered status quo on the Delhi Development Authority’s proposal to demolish jhuggi clusters in city’s Gyaspur area in Hazrat Nizamuddin. The vacation bench comprising of Justice Neena Bansal Krishna observed in the petition filled by the residents and the court granted an interim relief.

It was ordered by the court status quo till July 11, the next date of hearing.

The bench orally remarked that a ten-day delay in demolition won’t make a difference but if today it is demolished and later, we come to know that they were entitled, who’s going to… the bench will consider it on July 11, 2022 but in the Meanwhile, some protections are entitled them. Adding this, Status quo be maintained. If since 1995, they have been there, heavens won’t come down if for 10 more days they are protected.

In the plea the petitioner stated that the T-Huts settlement in the area, which was stated by the authorities to vacate. It has been in existence for almost two decades and compromise of 32 jhuggis or households.

In the plea it was alleged that the bulldozers have been parked around the camp and a DDA official has orally asked them to vacate the area and it is noted that till date no proper notice have been sent to them nor has DDA conducted any survey of the area.

Furthermore, the DDA did not provide any alternate arrangement for their rehabilitation which resulted in extreme distress among the residents.

Moreover, it was admitted by the petitioner that the land in question belongs to DDA and they may seek that status-quo to be maintained at the site. It was urged that the residents should not be physically dispose or evicted from the demolition site until the survey is conducted and rehabilitation is provided to the residents as per the DUSIB policy of 2015.

As per the JJ Rehabilitation and Relocation Policy 2015 and the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board. The residents who can establish their residence prior to 01.01.2015 are eligible for rehabilitation under the JJ Rehabilitation and Relocation Policy 2015.

It is observed that in the case Ajay Maken v. Union of India, Reliance is placed on the Supreme Court decision and the High Court decision in the case Sudama Singh & Ors. v. Government of Delhi & Anr, it was held in the case that that removal of jhuggis without ensuring relocation would amount of gross violation of Fundamental Rights under Article 21 of the Constitution. Further, it was held that the agencies conducting the demolitions ought to conduct survey before undertaking any demolition.

It is submitted that these observations would apply across the board, in the entire NCT of Delhi.

Advocates Vrinda Bhandari, Shiyaz Razaq, Kaoliangpou Kamei, Jepi Y Chisho and Paul Kumar Kalai, represented the petitioner.

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TELANGANA HIGH COURT: PLACE OF RESIDENCE OF THE ARBITRATOR WOULD NOT BE THE SEAT OF ARBITRATION

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The High Court of Telangana in the case M/s S. Square Infra v. Garneni Chalapathi Rao observed and held that the place of residence of the arbitrator would not determine the seat of arbitration.

The Single bench comprising of Justice P. Sree Sudha observed and held that merely because an arbitrator residing in Hyderabad has been appointed, it does not mean that only the Courts at Hyderabad would have the jurisdiction to decide all the matters arising out of arbitration agreement.

Facts of the Case:

In the present case, after the dispute arouse between the parties, the respondent sent a letter to the petitioner for nomination an arbitrator who is residing in Hyderabad. To its said notice, petitioner replied and declined the appointment of the arbitrator for the reason that there was no dispute which required the appointment of an arbitrator.

A suit was filled by the respondent before the VII Additional District Judge Sangareddy, seeking for relief of permanent injunction. An application was filled by the petitioner under Section 8 of the Arbitration & Conciliation Act and the parties referred to the arbitration.

An application was filled by the respondent under section 9 of the Arbitration & Conciliation Act before the Principal District Judge, Sangareddy, Subsequently, an application was filled by the petitioner for transferring the application from the Court at Sangareddy to Court at Hyderabad.

Contentions made by Parties:

On the following grounds, the petitioner sought the transfer of application.

An arbitrator residing in Hyderabad was nominated to respondent. However, only the courts in Hyderabad would have the jurisdiction to decide all the matters arising out of the arbitration.

It was stated that the nomination of an arbitrator residing in Hyderabad amounted to designating Hyderabad as the Seat of Arbitration.

On the following grounds, the respondent countered the submissions of the petitioner:

An application was filled by the petitioner under Section 8 of the A&C Act before the Court at Sangareddy. However, in terms of Section 42 of the A&C Act, only the court at Sangareddy would have the jurisdiction to decide all the matters arising out of arbitration.

Court Analysis:

The Court held that the seat of arbitration would not be decide by the place of residence of the arbitrator.

The argument of the petitioner was rejected by the court that since the respondent had initially nominated an arbitrator residing in Hyderabad, the Hyderabad Court would have the jurisdiction.

The court stated that merely because a party has nominated an arbitrator who resides in Hyderabad, the same would not designate Hyderabad as the Seat of arbitration in absence of any designation of the seat under the arbitration agreement.

It was further stated by the court that the application filled by the petitioner filled under Section 8 application before the Court at Sangareddy consequent to which the parties were referred to arbitration. Therefore, the Court would have the jurisdiction, in terms of Section 42 of the A&C Act.

The Transfer petition was dismissed by the Court.

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DELHI HIGH COURT REMANDS IN THE MATTER BACK TO ASSESSING OFFICER AFTER SETTING ASIDE: JUST 3 DAYS’ TIME GRANTED TO RESPOND TO THE INCOME TAX NOTICE

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plea in Delhi High Court seeking repatriation of 56 pregnant nurses

The Delhi High Court in the case Shubham Thakral Vs ITO, the Delhi bench comprising of Justice Manmohan and Justice Manmeet Pritam Singh Arora observed and remanded the matter back to the assessing officer as just 3 days’ time was granted to respond to the income tax notice.

In the present case, the petitioner/assessee assailed the notice under Section 148A (b) of the Income Tax Act, 1961 and the order passed under Section 148A (d) for the Assessment Year 2018–19.

It was contended by the assessee that only three days’ time was granted to the assessee to respond, as against the mandatory statutory period of at least seven days. However, despite of the fact that the annexure attached to the notice gave the petitioner eight days to respond, the e-filing submission portal was closed earlier, in violation of Section 148A (b) of the Income Tax Act.

Furthermore, the petitioner relied on the decision of Delhi High Court, in the case of Shri Sai Co-operative Thrift and Credit Society Ltd versus ITO, the Delhi High Court in the case held that under Section 148A (b), a minimum time of seven days has to be granted to the assessee to file its reply to the show cause notice.

No objections were raised by the department/respondent to the matter being returned to the Assessing Officer for a fresh decision in accordance with the law. Accordingly, the court set aside the order passed under Section 148A (d) for the Assessment Year 2018-19. The Assessing officer was directed by the court to pass a fresh reasoned order in accordance with the law after considering the reply of the petitioner, which was directed to be filed within a week.

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ALLAHABAD HIGH COURT: ADVOCATES SHOULDN’T ADVISE CLIENTS TO REAGITATE MATTERS IF THERE IS NO ERROR APPARENT ON FACE OF RECORD

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The Allahabad High Court in the case Malhan and 17 Others Vs. State Of U.P. And Another observed and stated that an advocate should be given such a piece of advice when there is no error apparent on the face of the record nor was there any reason why the matter be re-agitated it was finally decided.

The bench comprising of Justice Dr. Kaushal Jayendra Thaker and Justice Vivek Varma observed while dealing with the civil review application wherein the bench observed the concerned advised his client to make a chance by filling the instant review application after a period of six year.

In the present case, a civil review petition was filled along with the application under section 5 of the Limitation Act, 1963., the application was filled for seeking condonation of delay in filling the application, the application was filled with a delay of six years i.e., 1900 days.

It was stated by the applicant that the review application could not be filled due to the blockage of public transportation on account of the COVID-19 guidelines.

Moreover, the court observed that the appeals were disposed of by the Apex Court in the year 2016 and only in 2020-2021, the pandemic struck India and furthermore, it cannot be said that due to the COVID guidelines the public transportation was blocked and however, the applicant could not come to Allahabad Court to file review.

Further, it was stated that the court asked the counsel for the review applicants to explain the delay in filling the review application, to which the council gave a strange reply that the counsel had advised the clients that they must take a chance by filling this review application after a period of six years.

Following this, the Court observed:

The court noted that an advocate should not give such an advice when there is no error apparent on the face of record nor was there any other reason that when the matter was finally decided, why the matter be re-agitated.

It was stated that the court has no reason to condone the delay of six years as the same was not explained as to why this review application is filed after such an inordinate delay.

The Court opined that the lapse in approaching the court within the time is understandable but a total inaction for long period of delay without any explanation whatsoever and that too in absence of showing any sincere attempt on the part of suiter, this would add to his negligence and the relevant factor going against him.

The court observed that careless and reckless is shown by the review applicant in approaching the court and due to the condemnation of delay in the application with a token cost of Rs.10,000/, the court dismissed the application.

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SUPREME COURT CRITICISES HIGH COURT: POSTING ANTICIPATORY BAIL PLEA AFTER TWO MONTHS CAN’T BE APPRECIATED

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The Supreme Court in the case Sanjay versus The State (NCT of Delhi) & ANR observed and stated that in the case where personal liberty is involved, the court is expected to pass orders at the earliest while taking into account the merits of the matter in one way or other. Further, the top court observed that posting of an application for anticipatory bail after a couple of months cannot be appreciated by the court.

The bench comprising of Justice C. T. Ravikumar and the Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia was hearing a June 2 SLP against the Delhi High Court in a petition filed under section 420, 467, 468, 471, 120-B, 34 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 for seeking anticipatory bail in a 2022 FIR, a notice is issued. It was stated that the learned APP for the state is present and accepts the notice and seeks time to file status report. The High Court in the impugned order stated that Let the status report be filed by the state prior to the next date with an advance copy to the learned counsel for the petitioner. The matter is to be list on 31.08.2022.

It was noted by the bench comprising of Justice Ravikumar and the Justice Dhulia that in the captioned Special Leave Petition, the grievance of the petitioner is that the application for anticipatory bail moved by the petitioner, being Crl. M.A. No. 11480 of 2022 in Bail Application No. 1751 of 2022 without granting any interim protection, was posted to 31.08.2022. on 24.05.2022, the bail application was moved on.

However, the bench asserted that the bench is of the considered view that in a matter involving personal liberty, the Court is expected to to pass orders at the earliest while taking into account the merits of the matter in one way or other.

It was declared by the bench that at any rate posting an application for anticipatory bail after a couple of months cannot be appreciated by the court.

Further, the bench requested to the High Court to dispose off the application for anticipatory bail on its own merits and in accordance with law expeditiously, preferably within a period of three weeks after reopening of the Court. Adding to it, the bench stated that if the main application could not be disposed off, for any reason, within the stipulated time, relief sought for in the interlocutory and on and on its own merits, the application shall be considered.

While disposing of the SLP, the bench directed in its order that we grant interim protection from arrest to the petitioner herein, Till such time.

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