The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has ordered an interim stay on the prohibitory orders of the Foreign Contributions Regulation (FCRA) wing of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) disallowing the Thoothukudi Diocesan Association from receiving foreign funds and freezing its bank account. A single judge here also ordered notice to the FCRA wing on the petition.
The Home Ministry passed the impugned prohibitory order on February 9, 2012 and froze the association’s bank account as part of its crackdown on NGOs in the wake of the anti-KKNPP agitation.
Subsequently, M Jebanathan, procurator and chief functionary of the Thoothukudi Diocesan Association, filed a writ petition praying to lift the ban and to defreeze the association’s account in the Bank of Baroda in Thoothukudi.
The Centre failed to issue a showcause notice and did not allow the association to explain its stand before passing the impugned order.
Hence, it is in gross violation of the principles of natural justice, the petitioner told the court. “The impugned order has failed to consider the fact that it will cause undue hardship to lakhs of marginalised people, who stand to benefit from the activities of the petitioner society,” the petitioner said.
According to him, the association is involved in education, health, charity, developmental and relief and rehabilitation services, apart from pastoral and religious services. “All these 450 years, since its establishment, the association epitomising the Catholic community, has drawn from local and foreign resources to maintain its religious and social structures and its innumerable functions. The activities of the association have never been prejudicial to the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of the nation,” the petitioner said.
On Thursday, Justice K Venkataraman ordered notice to the FCRA wing of the MHA and issued interim stay against the order freezing the association’s bank account and preventing it from receiving foreign funds.