The Centre has barred many prominent higher education institutions, including Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Delhi University (DU), IIT-Delhi and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), among the several hundred organisations, from receiving foreign funds.
The institutions’ registration has been cancelled under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 2010 (FCRA) by the Union Home Ministry as they have reportedly failed to file their annual returns for the last five years.
As per the law, no institution or organisation is allowed to receive funds from abroad unless it is registered with the FCRA. It is compulsory for them to submit their annual income and expenditure statements to the government. For instance, an educational institution needs its FCRA registration number to receive donations from its alumni based abroad.
Among other organisations whose FCRA licenses have been revoked are, as reported by The Indian Express, the Supreme Court Bar Association, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), Panjab University, Gargi College (Delhi), Lady Irwin College (Delhi), Escorts Heart Institute and Research Centre, Gandhi Peace Foundation, Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan, Armed Forces Flag Day Fund, School Of Planning & Architecture (Delhi) and FICCI Socio Economic Development Foundation, the Doon School Old Boys Association, Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Khalsa College (Delhi), Dr Zakir Hussain Memorial Trust, Dr Ram Manohar Lohia International Trust, Coordinating Voluntary Adoption Resource Agency, Bombay Diocesan Society, Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences (Karnataka), Indira Gandhi Institute of Child Health (Bengaluru), Shri Mahatma Gandhi Charitable Trust (Gujarat) and Sri Satya Sai Trust.
An official of the Home Ministry said that these organisations failed to file their returns for five consecutive years – 2010-11 to 2014-15 – even though they were served repeated notices.
IIT-Delhi Director V Ramgopal Rao told The Indian Express, “I’m not aware of this. But IIT-Delhi has nothing to hide. I’m sure we would have filed our returns. This seems like a procedural issue and we will sort this out with the government.”
Acting principal of Gargi College, Promila Kumar, said, “We have filed our returns. In fact, we got a reminder about filing returns recently and we informed the government that we have already complied. I’m not sure why this has happened.”
The ICMR which is funded by the Indian government through the department of health research, the ministry of health and family welfare, also had its license cancelled as it failed to submit an annual report to the MHA on the receipt and utilisation of funds. Some government-aided NGOs also claimed to have FCRA exemption, however, they were told to file their documents.
In May, as a one-time measure, all NGOs were given one month to file their annual returns without payment of a penalty.
“This was followed by regular email alerts from May 19, 2017 to June 14, 2017… daily SMS alerts from May 5, 2017 to June 14, 2017. However, despite sufficient and adequate notice, it was observed that thousands of NGOs had not uploaded their annual returns for three or more than three years within the stipulated time,” said a ministry official to The Indian Express.
The MHA has also directed 1,222 NGOs across India to validate the bank accounts where they receive foreign funds, the failure of which will attract punitive action.
The Ministry directed all NGOs registered under FCRA to receive all foreign funds in a single designated bank account, however, many of them have not validated these accounts, thus causing problems for the banks which are required to report receipt foreign funds within 48 hours.