December 28th, 2016
The Central Government has canceled the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) licenses of around 20,000 NGOs after they were found to be allegedly violating various provisions of the FCRA. These NGOs will be barred from receiving foreign funds.
Of these 20,000 NGOs, the FCRA licenses of over 9,500 NGOs were canceled in 2015. The licenses of the rest 11,000 NGOs expired as they failed to apply for renewal in time.
About a year ago, the government started reviewing the working of the NGOs and the process is still continuing, said official sources. Amid the crackdown, out of 13,000 valid NGOs, around 3,000 have submitted applications for renewal while Ministry of Home Affairs received 2,000 new requests for registration under the FCRA. In addition to this, 300 NGOs are currently under prior permission category but are not registered under the FCRA, which means they need the Ministry’s nod whenever they want to receive foreign funds.
However, it was the Home Ministry that had renewed the FCRA licenses of 16 NGOs under the “automatic” route, and all the cases were reviewed thoroughly, and except in two cases, 14 NGOs have been put under the prior permission category while papers of the two NGOs are under examination.
The FCRA license is given for five years, and this year the NGOs had to apply for a renewal before March 31 since the exercise was done in 2011 after the FCRA norms were amended in 2010.
On December 14, the Centre had canceled the FCRA licenses of seven NGOs, including the one run by activist Shabnam Hashmi, following some conflicting intelligence reports against them. It was alleged that these NGOs are working against the public interest by using foreign funds, portraying the government in foreign countries as “anti-Dalit”.
Many of the NGOs whose license got canceled, took to social media to protest against the decision. Many regarded it being “in disregard of the explanations and arguments”. Many are still trying to seek an answer from the government on why it initially gave license and then canceled it.
BJP and Congress are Themselves Guilty Of Violating FCRA
In March 2014, based on the petition filed by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), Delhi High Court had indicted both the parties for receiving foreign funds in violation of provisions of Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA). They received funds from the subsidiaries of London-based mining company Vedanta.
The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act was enacted in 1976 by the Indira Gandhi-led government during the Emergency, which prohibited electoral candidates, political parties, judges, MPs and even cartoonists from accepting foreign contributions. However, India only received foreign funding after 1991, as donors like World Bank and IMF started to contribute. Both the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress were pulled up by the Delhi High Court in 2014 for violating the FCRA by accepting contributions from the Indian subsidiaries of the London-based multinational, Vedanta. BJP and Congress, on the other hand, had challenged Delhi High Court decision of holding them guilty of a violation of the FCRA by accepting donations from a foreign company. Under the 2010 amendment, the government relaxed both the parties for receiving grants from foreign companies.