The Union home ministry has released a list of more than 18,000 entities, including non-government organisations (NGOs), trusts, and educational institutes, which allegedly failed to file their annual returns about foreign funding received by them over the past five years.
The Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), 2010, was enacted to control and check the misuse of foreign funding received by the organisations that are outside the purview of the central and state governments. FCRA rules mandate these bodies to take a licence from the home ministry and file annual returns regarding their spending. The Act prohibits the use of such funds for activities that undermine India’s sovereignty, security and diplomatic relations with other countries.
However, according to the gazette notification S.O. 1492(E) dated July 1, 2011, the Union government has exempted “all bodies constituted or established by or under a Central Act or State Act requiring to have their accounts compulsorily audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India from the operation of all the provisions of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010”.
Experts argue that since institutions such as JNU, Delhi University
and 23 IITs were established as per their respective Acts of parliament, they are exempted from filing the FCRA returns. Some institutes claim they have been regularly filing the returns in spite of the government notification exempting them.
“We have been filing returns on a continuous basis. Further, according to the gazette notification of July 1, 2011, the central institutions which are audited by the CAG are exempted under section 50. However, we are approaching the Ministry of Human Resource Development and the FCRA desk of the Union home ministry to seek advice,” said the registrar of IIT, Delhi. Business Standard
also found that IIT
Delhi had regularly filed the returns.
Senior officials in the FCRA department were not available for comment. Some say the inclusion of such institutions could be an oversight as similar incidents have happened in the past as well.
An official of an institute whose name figures in the list said, “We have not received any letter or intimation from the government regarding cancellation of our licences.”