- The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked 6,000-odd NGOs to go back to the governmentfor redressal of their grievances on non-renewal of their Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) registration.
- The FCRA registrations of about 5,900 NGOsceased to be active after December 31, 2021, owing to either the NGOs not applying for renewal before the due date or the MHA refusing their renewal for alleged violation of the Act.
What is the FCRA?
- The FCRA was enacted during the Emergency in 1976 in an atmosphere of apprehension that foreign powers were interfering in India’s affairs by pumping in funds through independent organisations.
- FCRA was amended in 2010 to “consolidate the law” on utilisation of foreign funds, and “to prohibit” their use for “any activities detrimental to national interest”.
- The law was amended again by the in 2020, giving the government tighter control and scrutiny over the receipt and utilisation of foreign funds by NGOs
- FCRA requires every person or NGO wishing to receive foreign donations to be registered under the Act, to open a bank account for the receipt of the foreign funds in State Bank of India, Delhi, and to utilise those funds only for the purpose for which they have been received and as stipulated in the Act.
- They are also required to file annual returns, and they must not transfer the funds to another NGO.
- FCRA registrations are granted to individuals or associations that have definite cultural, economic, educational, religious, and social programmes.
How is FCRA registration granted?
- Following the application, the MHA makes inquiries through the Intelligence Bureau into the antecedents of the applicant, and accordingly processes the application.
- Under the FCRA, the applicant should not be fictitious or benami; and should not have been prosecuted or convicted for indulging in activities aimed at conversion through inducement or force, either directly or indirectly, from one religious faith to another.
- The applicant should also not have been prosecuted for or convicted of creating communal tension or disharmony; should not have been found guilty of diversion or misutilisation of funds; and should not be engaged or likely to be engaged in the propagation of sedition.
- The MHA is required to approve or reject the application within 90 days.
- In case of failure to process the application in the given time, the MHA is expected to inform the NGO of the reasons for the same.
- Once granted, FCRA registration is valid for five years. NGOs are expected to apply for renewal within six months of the date of expiry of registration.
Source The Hindu