Govt asks 1,736 non-profits to submit documents for FCRA licence renewal

Non-profits asked to submit documents for FCRA licence renewal include entities such as Tata Memorial Centre, Leprosy Mission Hospital


The FCRA has come under the spotlight following high profile cases of suspension of bank accounts and licences of organisations like Greenpeace India. Photo: Hemant Mishra/Mint
The FCRA has come under the spotlight following high profile cases of suspension of bank accounts and licences of organisations like Greenpeace India. Photo: Hemant Mishra/Mint

New Delhi: The government has released a list of more than 1,700 not-for-profit organizations that it said have not yet been given permission to receive foreign funding under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA). These organizations can now either call or mail the home ministry to complete the process for the renewal of their licences under the FCRA.

The order, signed by Prasanjit Deb, joint director of the FCRA division at the home ministry, was put up on the ministry’s website on Wednesday.

“While processing the renewal of online applications received on or before 30 June, 1,736 cases were closed due to non-submission of documents or deficient documents or other statutory short coming...,” the order said.

These organizations have been directed to call the ministry or email it for completing the documentation.

No home ministry official was available for comment via phone or email.

“The organizations have been given a second chance,” said Arjun Philips, communication head at the Voluntary Action Network of India (VANI), an umbrella organization for the not-for-profit sector with over 500 members.

The list includes entities such as Tata Memorial Centre, a grant-in-aid institution under the department of atomic energy, Leprosy Mission Hospital, the Church of North India, and schools, hospitals and religious trusts and societies.

FCRA regulates inflows of money from outside the country to the not-for-profit sector and requires such organizations to register with the ministry’s foreigners division, which issues licences to receive such money. The Act, born during the Emergency years in the 1970s, was amended in 2010 to make it mandatory for groups receiving foreign money to renew their licence every five years.

The ministry website shows that there are more than 40,000 such organizations registered with it, all of which were needed to apply to the ministry between April and June this year to renew their licences. The organizations were to receive the renewed licences by 31 October.

Organizations that have been denied renewal, like the Indian Action Social Forum (Insaf)—an umbrella group working on rights-based initiatives with grassroots organizations—have challenged the home ministry’s decision in the Delhi high court.

Insaf took the matter to court and the denial has been put on hold, as the court has directed the government to explain the reason for denial.

Anil Choudhary of Insaf said, “The whole renewal process is problematic because it appears to us they are using this clause to close down organisations -- instead of the actual clause available to cancel licences of organisations found in violation of the Act.”

FCRA section 14 provides for cancellation of registration and section 16 provides for renewal of registration. While section 14 also provides for a redressal mechanism where organisations can appeal, clarify or represent its side of the case, section 16 does not provide for such a process.

This act has come under the spotlight in recent years given the high profile cases of suspension of bank accounts and licences of organisations like Ford Foundation, Greenpeace India and Teesta Setalvad’s Sabrang Trust.

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