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Karnataka HC quashes cancellation of registration of Centre for Wildlife Studies under FCRA

Founded by scientist K Ullas Karanth, Bengaluru-based Centre for Wildlife Studies faced 'suspension' of registration under the FCRA on March 5, 2021. This suspension was extended and later turned into cancellation of registration on September 4, 2023, following a show-cause notice issued by MHA on December 3, 2021.
Last Updated : 29 June 2024, 06:59 IST

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Bengaluru: The Karnataka High Court has annulled orders issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) that led to the cancellation of registration of Centre for Wildlife Studies' (CWS) under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act.

Founded by scientist K Ullas Karanth, Bengaluru-based CWS faced "suspension" of registration under the FCRA on March 5, 2021. This suspension was extended and later turned into cancellation of registration on September 4, 2023, following a show-cause notice issued by MHA on December 3, 2021.

CWS contested the cancellation, arguing that it lacked justification and that Karanth, son of Jnanpith laureate late K Shivaram Karanth, was not granted a personal hearing as mandated under Section 14(2) of the FCRA.

The MHA countered it, contending that personal hearings were not required before cancelling a registration.

Justice M Nagaprasanna of the Karnataka High Court noted that while Section 14(2) allows for the cancellation of registration, Section 14(3) prevents the entity from re-registering for three years.

"The words depicted in the Act ‘reasonable opportunity of being heard’ cannot be restricted to issuance of a show cause notice but a personal hearing in the peculiar facts of the case owing to the peculiarity of sub-section (3) of Section 14 of the Act must have been afforded to the petitioner," the judge said in a recent order.

The court observed that non-affording of personal hearing to the petitioner has rendered the order unsustainable and the unsustainability of it would lead to its obliteration.

"Let there be no confusion that there can always be a fusion between hearing and personal hearing," the judge said.

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Published 29 June 2024, 06:59 IST

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