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Current Affairs

FCRA law

Date: 13 May 2022 Tags: Bills & Laws

Issue

Officials of Foreigners Division of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) have been questioned by CBI for accepting bribes to give clearances under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA), 2010.

 

Background

The FCRA bars non-registered NGOs from accepting foreign contributions. Many NGOs use illegal measures to get permission.

 

Details

Many NGOs have been denied renewal for alleged violation of the FCRA and others have not applied for renewal before the due date.

 

The law

  • The law was enacted in 1976 to prevent foreign powers from pumping money into the country to interfere in internal affairs.

  • The law sought to regulate foreign donations to individuals and associations so that they functioned according to rules framed by the government.

  • An amendment was carried out in 2010 to prohibit their use for any activities detrimental to national interest.

  • Latest amendment was made in 2020, which gave the government tighter control and scrutiny over the receipt and utilization of foreign funds by NGOs.

 

New restrictions

  • NGOs receiving foreign funding must be registered under the Act

  • They need to open a bank account for the receipt of the foreign funds in State Bank of India, Delhi

  • The funds have to be utilized only for the purpose for which they have been received

  • Receiving entities must not transfer the funds to another NGO

 

Prohibited receivers

  • Candidates for elections

  • Journalists or newspaper and media broadcast companies

  • Judges and government servants

  • Members of legislature

  • Political parties or their office-bearers

  • Organizations of a political nature

 

Applying for FCRA

  • NGOs must apply for registration online in a prescribed format with the required documentation. 

  • The Intelligence Bureau makes enquiries to ascertain if the applied NGO follows all norms needed for approval.

  • Within 90 days, the MHA must approve or reject application. If not then they must inform the NGO for the reasons.

 

Validity

FCRA registration once granted is valid for five years. The NGO must apply for re-registration within six months of expiry.

 

Cancellation

  • Registrations can be cancelled anytime if audit finds irregularities in the finances of an NGO in terms of misutilisation of foreign funds.

  • If registration of an NGO is cancelled by MHA, it is not eligible for re-registration for next three years. The orders can be challenged in High Courts.