K’taka HC Overturns Cancellation of ‘Centre for Wildlife Studies’ Registration

Centre for Wildlife Studies

The Karnataka High Court has set aside the orders issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) that resulted in the cancellation of the Centre for Wildlife Studies’ (CWS) registration under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act.

On March 5, 2021, the Bengaluru-based Centre for Wildlife Studies (CWS), founded by scientist K. Ullas Karanth, faced a “suspension” of its registration under the FCRA.
After a show-cause notice was sent by MHA on December 3, 2021, this suspension was prolonged and eventually changed into registration cancellation on September 4, 2023.
CWS challenged the cancellation, claiming there was no basis for it and that Karanth, the late K Shivaram Karanth’s son and Jnanpith laureate, was not given the opportunity for a personal hearing as required by Section 14(2) of the FCRA.

In response, the MHA argued that registration cancellation did not require personal hearings.

A single judge Justice M Nagaprasanna pointed out that although Section 14(2) permits registration cancellation, Section 14(3) forbids the entity from re-registering for a period of three years.

“The words depicted in the Act ‘reasonable opportunity of being heard’ cannot be restricted to the issuance of a show cause notice. Given the peculiar facts of the case and the unique nature of sub-section (3) of Section 14 of the Act, a personal hearing must have been afforded to the petitioner,” the judge stated in a recent order.

The bench observed that the failure to provide a personal hearing to the petitioner rendered the order unsustainable, and this unsustainability would result in its invalidation.

“Let there be no confusion that a fusion between hearing and personal hearing is always possible,” the judge added.

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