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Govt Warns FCRA-Registered NGOs of Penal Action If Home Ministry Approval on Change in Office Bearers Not Sought

But political parties can continue receiving foreign funds without any legal scrutiny, thanks to the amendments brought in by the Modi govt in 2018.

The Union Home Ministry, led by Amit Shah, on Friday warned non-governmental organisations (NGOs)  are registered under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010, of penal action if they do not seek the Home Ministry’s approval on any change in office bearers.

“It is noticed that some associations/persons, having been registered under the Act, have changed their office-bearers/key functionaries without approval from the MHA and without updating this data on a real time basis through the online application meant for change of these details,” the order read.

All FCRA-registered NGOs have to “submit online changes failing which penal action shall be initiated under the appropriate provisions of the FCRA Act, 2010 and Rules, 2011.” Failing to submit details of any additions/deletions/changes within a month of the order will result in penal action, it said.

Here is the full order:

To receive donations from foreign countries, NGOs are required to seek registration under the FCRA. Activists and civil society have criticised the stringent FCRA norms as a tactic to paralyse dissenting voices. Since 2014, the government suspended the FCRA licenses of close to 20,000 NGOs, thereby barring them from receiving funds from abroad.

Also Read: NGOs Need International Protection From Hindu Nationalism in India

In 2018, the Home Ministry suspended the FCRA registration of Greenpeace India, a move that was criticised by the international community. Similarly, Amnesty International India’s bank accounts were frozen by the Enforcement Directorate which claimed that the renowned rights advocacy organisation had illegally bypassed foreign funding norms.

However, it is noteworthy that in the 2018 Union Budget, the Modi government brought in a law to allow foreign funding to political parties in India without any scrutiny. What’s more surprising, is that the measure came into effect retrospectively from 1976. This meant that any foreign funding received by political parties from 1976 onwards was now free of any legal scrutiny.

Also Read: ED Raids Amnesty India Bengaluru Office; Amnesty Says ‘Disturbing Pattern Of The Govt Silencing Organisations That Question Power’

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