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Teesta Setalvad not cooperating in probe: CBI

Seeking cancellation of anticipatory bail granted to them by the Bombay High Court, CBI claimed that “to ascertain whether the amounts were utilised for the purposes prejudicial to national interests, their custodial interrogation was required.”

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has alleged before the Supreme Court that social activist Teesta Setalvad and her husband, Javed Anand, facing probe for illegally receiving funds from the US-based Ford Foundation in violation of FCRA, had utilised the ‘foreign money’ and then submitted a report to the donor firm which was “derogatory, detrimental to the national interests and communal harmony.” Seeking cancellation of anticipatory bail granted to them by the Bombay High Court, CBI claimed that “to ascertain whether the amounts were utilised for the purposes prejudicial to national interests, their custodial interrogation was required.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Economic Offence Wing of CBI Mumbai, which has filed an appeal against the high court’s August 11 bail order, alleged that these social activists through their company M/s Sabrang Communication and Publishing Pvt Ltd (SCPPL) had received $2,90,000 from the Ford Foundation in 2006 without mandatory approval from the Centre under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA).It was alleged that despite the court’s direction to them, they were not co-operating in the investigation.On October 14, Setalvad and her husband were granted protection from arrest by the apex court till December 5 but were directed to co-operate in the investigation.Filing an affidavit on November 27, the agency said, “After receipt of contribution from the foreign source, they submitted information to the donor much beyond the scope of objectives of the company M/s. Sabrang Communications and narrative. Reports were submitted to the donor and information to foreign sources which are derogatory to India and detrimental to national interests and communal harmony.”They knew permission of Central government was required but they conveniently avoided the same and received foreign contributions from Ford Foundation violating the provisions of FCRA and Rule,” the affidavit also said.Further, CBI alleged that despite assurance from Setalvad and Anand to furnish the original documents relating to their company’s income and expenditure about the money $2, 90,000 for the period 2004-2010, they have not supplied any detail till date.”There is absolute non-co-operation from the side of respondents (Setalvad and Anand) in the investigation of this case. They were not prepared to make any disclosure regarding utilization of grant $2, 90,000 received by them as well as the connected relevant records such as cash books, bank accounts of the company from 2004 till date, ledger accounts, original vouchers showing expenditures of grant received from Ford,” the CBI said referring to its November 2, 2015 notice to them.Dismissing Setalvad’s claim that the amount which was received by M/s Sabrang Communication from Ford Founadation was consultancy fee for their professional services, the agency indicated the letters seized by CBI during searches conducted at the office premises of M/s Sabrang in July and said the documents establish that the amount was “grant” received from a foreign firm illegally.The couple also face another case of alleged embezzlement of funds for a museum at Ahmedabad’s Gulbarg Society that was devastated in the 2002 riots

Notice to Indira Jaising’s NGO for FCRA ‘violation’

‘Lawyers Collective’ has allegedly received foreign contribution between 2006-07 and 2013-14 and the Home Ministry reportedly found discrepancy in the filing of annual returns of the NGO where Jaising, who had served as the Additional Solicitor General in UPA government, was functioning as Secretary.
File Photo

A show cause notice has been served by the Home Ministry to an NGO run by Supreme Court lawyer Indira Jaising for alleged violation of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act. ‘Lawyers Collective’ has allegedly received foreign contribution between 2006-07 and 2013-14 and the Home Ministry reportedly found discrepancy in the filing of annual returns of the NGO where Jaising, who had served as the Additional Solicitor General in UPA government, was functioning as Secretary.”Yes, the Home Ministry has served a show cause notice to Ms Indira Jaising under FCRA,” a Home Ministry spokesperson said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On behalf of ‘Lawyers Collective’ and Jaising, a statement was issued saying that “neither I nor the Lawyers Collective has received any notice from you under FCRA relating to allegations about violation of the FCRA or any other law. As and when it is received, it will be responded in accordance with law.”However, the statement disclosed receiving a letter requesting them to answer a “standard questionnaire, which we are in the process of replying” by December 7.She said, “I am indeed surprised that the notice seems to have been released to the press, even before it is served on Lawyers Collective or me or before I or the Lawyers Collective have had an opportunity to respond to it.”I am constrained to come to the conclusion that this is an exercise in creating a negative public perception about me and the Lawyers Collective and not about the alleged violations of law.” She expressed hope that the government will follow the legal route, rather than use the press to “achieve extraneous aims”.”I, therefore, request that you refrain from issuing copies of alleged notices, which are meant for me or the Lawyers Collective, to the press and observe due process of law,” Jaising, who is at present in the US, said in the statement.She again reiterated that no notice has been received about the allegations about the violations of the FCRA or any law by her or the ‘Lawyers Collective’.”If it has indeed been issued, you are requested to send it to the registered address of the Lawyers Collective, if it pertains to the Lawyers Collective, or to me if it pertains to me so that an appropriate reply can be made,” she said.Lawyers Collective has its registered office in Mumbai.

Subramanian Swamy targets Rahul Gandhi again, says will ask ED to register FIR

“I have produced documents, submitted by the company in which Rahul Gandhi is the 65 percent shareholder, director and company secretary. He is informing the registrar of companies on his annual return that he is a citizen of Britain in writing, not for one year, but four years in a row,” he added.

Continuing his stand that Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi had taken British citizenship to set up a company in the United Kingdom, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Subramanian Swamy on Wednesday said that he will ask the Enforcement Directorate to register an FIR against the former.”One crime has been admitted by Congi: Buddhu did set up a company in UK. So a FIR is to be registered under FCRA, PMLA, FEMA. I will ask ED.I have traced Backops as a shell co. to companies receiving kick backs in Indian defence deals’ illegal commission. Another press conference (sic),” Swamy said in a series of tweets.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Earlier, the senior BJP leader had asked Rahul Gandhi to release all the documents that he has in his possession regarding his ‘citizenship’.”For setting up a company in Britain, if he is an Indian citizen and has not informed the Indian Government under FCRA (Foreign Contribution Regulation Act), then he is subjected to prosecution. If he has not declared it in his affidavit as a candidate for Lok Sabha, not once but twice, then he is subjected to prosecution and even removal from his membership on that basis,” Swamy had said.”I have produced documents, submitted by the company in which Rahul Gandhi is the 65 percent shareholder, director and company secretary. He is informing the registrar of companies on his annual return that he is a citizen of Britain in writing, not for one year, but four years in a row,” he added.Earlier, Swamy claimed of having evidences which could prove that the Congress vice president is a ‘British national’.Swamy alleged that Rahul Gandhi had declared himself as a British citizen between 2003 and 2009 in order to set up a private company in London, and has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding that the government strip the Congress vice-president of his Indian citizenship.However, the Congress Party rubbished the claims saying that Swamy and the BJP were repeating rehashed allegations levelled earlier on multiple occasions.”Swamy and BJP are repeating rehashed allegations levelled earlier on multiple occasions including through press conferences held in Ahmedabad and Delhi in October 2012…From the day he was born, Rahul Gandhi has held Indian citizenship and Indian passport and has never held citizenship of any other country nor has he represented as such. The allegation by Swamy is entirely false. The Certificate of Incorporation of the said company is enclosed and clearly mentions,” Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala said.

After FCRA, society registration of Greenpeace stripped

The authorities have also alleged that Greenpeace did not file annual returns for three financial years within the stipulated time of six months from the date of annual general body meeting

Greenpeace

Two months after the Centre cancelled Greenpeace India’s registration under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), Greenpeace India Society, the NGO’s officially registered body, has been stripped of its registration by the office of registrar in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. Greenpeace India Society was officially registered in Chennai back in 2002 and the NGO was received a notice from Chennai on Friday, informing them of the action taken against them.Greenpeace has been directed to pass a special resolution and dissolve itself as per the rules of the Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act. The NGO has termed action against them as ‘demonstration of Ministry of Home Affairs’ intolerance for dissent’.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The notice of the registrar office says that Greenpeace India’s society registration was cancelled after the registrar office in Chennai found that the NGO’s books did not reflect the foreign contributions it received, thus violating Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act. The office of registrar in Chennai had been inspecting the NGO’s books for the past few months.In the notice served to the NGO, the district registrar, Chennai has said, “This society has received crores of rupees from foreign countries. There is discrepancy in the account between the details of the foreign donation furnished by the society….submitted to the Registrar of Societies, which suggest fraudulent dealings.”The notice goes on to allege that the NGO is controlled by Stichting Greenpeace Council, Netherlands and is not independent, in contravention to law. Besides stressing on discrepancies in foreign donations, the authorities have also alleged that Greenpeace did not file annual returns for three financial years within the stipulated time of six months from the date of annual general body meeting.Responding to the development, Vinuta Gopal, Interim Executive Director of the NGO, said, “The Registrar of Societies is clearly acting under directions from the Ministry of Home Affairs in Delhi, which has been trying to shut Greenpeace India down for over a year now. This order has been passed without granting Greenpeace a hearing, and without complying with the Madras High Court order to address each of our points and queries. This is a blatant attempt to circumvent the legal process and shows no respect for the law.”The NGO, which has got a stay order on cancellation of its FCRA registration, believes that they are on a strong legal ground with regards to the registrar’s order and will reply to the notice soon. Greenpeace, which has run major campaigns on nuclear power, coal mining and forest conservation has faced a slew of actions against it ever since the Intelligence Bureau termed it as a threat to ‘national economic security’ in 2014.

Ratings for NGOs receiving Environment Ministry grants

Government today said an in-house rating of NGOs receiving grants from the Environment Ministry will be done to rank them on the basis of their performance.

Government today said an in-house rating of NGOs receiving grants from the Environment Ministry will be done to rank them on the basis of their performance.Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar, while releasing the 10th edition of ‘Directory of Environment NGOs’ said a system will be created to assess the performance of such NGOs.”We will create a system where the performance of NGOs receiving Environment Ministry’s grant will be assessed to see whether the money has been spent on the purpose it was mentioned for and second, whether the message for which the amount is given has reached the people and the purpose is achieved,” he said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He said this will be an incentive for the NGOs to perform better.”We want to create an indexation of NGOs for incentivising them wherein good NGOs will be appreciated and others who fall back will also get stimulus to get better. We would create a constant dialogue with people through NGOs,” he said.The minister said that Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) should not be viewed as the only criterion to recognise NGOs.”FCRA is not the only criterion of recognize NGOs because there are thousands of NGOs who are working without foreign donation and they create resources within the country and work with masses and people. So those organisations will also be recognised,” he said.The directory complied by WWF has enlisted 2300 organisations and will be put on public domain after few changes and amendments, the minister said.The database covers information under various heads including details such as geographical coverage, commencement of activities, staff strength and contact details.Dr G. Areendran, Coordinator, Environment Information System, WWF, said around 4000 NGOs were sent application forms but only 40 per cent of them could be verified.”Verifying authenticity of NGOs was the biggest challenge. They were required to submit mandatory documents including registration number, financial dealings, details of projects, utilization certificate and auditing,” he said.

Kiren Rijiju defends govt action against Greenpeace, accuses NGO of inciting people

The action came after Greenpeace India supported protests against coal mines in the Mahan forests in Madhya Pradesh, which resulted in a court withdrawing permits for Essar and Hindalco to develop the project.

he Union Minister of State for Home said the government has not put any restriction on genuine NGOs involved in charity and development works.

Defending crackdown on Greenpeace, Union Minister Kiren Rijiju on Thursday said those violating rules and conducting themselves in wrong ways would face punitive action. “Protest is a right of everyone in a democracy. But if anyone violates rules and work in wrong ways, we will take action,” he said.Rijiju accused Greenpeace India of inciting people against industrial projects saying such activities of an NGO violates the rules of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act under which it was registered. “Any NGO which is registered under the FCRA should follow rules. No one should violate laws, else action will follow,” he said. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Union Minister of State for Home said the government has not put any restriction on genuine NGOs involved in charity and development works. On September 3, the Home Ministry’s foreigners division, which reports to Rijiju, had cancelled the Greenpeace India’s registration under the FCRA alleging that the NGO was working against the country’s economic progress.The action came after Greenpeace India supported protests against coal mines in the Mahan forests in Madhya Pradesh, which resulted in a court withdrawing permits for Essar and Hindalco to develop the project.The government had cited alleged violation of norms by the NGO by opening five accounts to use foreign donations without informing the authorities concerned. While suspending its registration under the FCRA, government had also said the NGO under-reported and repeatedly mentioned inaccurate amounts of its foreign contributions. Greenpeace had termed the government action as an attempt to “silence campaigns” and said it will not be deterred.

NGO founded by Gujarat CM faces MHA scrutiny?

The second round of crackdown on NGOs in the month of June saw licences of 4,470 such entities cancelled for allegedly violating the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act.

Anandiben Patel

In April this year when the ministry of home affairs (MHA) cancelled registration of nearly 9,000 NGOs for not submitting annual returns from 2009 to 2012, the name of Gramshree Trust, an NGO founded by the current Gujarat chief minister Anandiben Patel back in 1995, was missing in the list. The second round of crackdown on NGOs in the month of June saw licences of 4,470 such entities cancelled for allegedly violating the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act. This list included a number of top universities, Supreme Court Bar Association and a premier medical institute but not of Gramshree which is now headed by Anar Patel, daughter of the Gujarat chief minister.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> However, an RTI activist’s incessant toil against the Gramshree has the MHA now looking into the allegations of irregularities against the trust which according to a response to an application filed by Gujarat-based activist Roshan Shah,has not filed its annual returns since October 24,2011, the day when it was allotted its FCRA registration number. The RTI application further seeks information on the profits generated by the trust on account of the fact that Gramshree, which employs artisans from Gujarat, has been exporting several of its products that include handicrafts, apparel, home furnishing items and other accessories. MHA in its response to this query wrote, “Being third party information, same cannot be provided without consent of the party. The third party being consulted.” In August, Shah received another response from the MHA after he enquired about the action taken against Gramshree Trust for allegedly violating FCRA rules. The response stated that Shah’s grievances have now been sent to the MU section of MHA and sources in the ministry say agencies have been asked to verify charges of irregularities by Gramshree. What remains to be seen whether or not the trust will be taken to task if at all there is a fresh crackdown on NGOs. “Craftroots, an initiative of Gramshree trust, has participated in exhibition to sell products in the US between July 31, 2015 and August 2, 2015 at NJ EXPO Centre. Ahmedabad charity commissioner’s office informed me that it does not have any account statements of Gramshree Trust or Craftroots. If this is not black money then what is,” Shah remarked. The MHA, however, maintains that the NGOs found guilty of irregularities will not be spared after the ministry completes auditing of accounts of NGOs from 2011-12 to 2013-14. “We have done scrutiny of accounts of NGOs till 2011-12, the year 2012-13 is in process. It is a tedious work and is still being compiled. We look for habitual offender NGOs and that is why the NGOs who had not submitted even a single year of accounts between 2009-11 were given show cause notices early this year. A similar exercise will be done once we complete auditing of accounts of NGOs from 2011-12 to 2013-14 and any NGO found guilty will not be spared,” an MHA official told dna. “The Gujarat chief minister also serves as the director of Gramshree Women Empowerment and she did not mention this in her affidavit before the Election Commission of India. This means that there is a clear attempt to conceal certain information,” said Shah adding that accounts of this company must be looked into as well. Anandiben features under the important functionaries in the official website of the state government.Under the section ‘Contribution in the field of service’, where it is mentioned that she is the founder of Gramshree Trust and Director of Gramshree Women Empowerment section 25 company. While Zaubacorp, a website containing information on companies, shows Anandiben Patel, Anar Jayesh Patel, Meghna Paresh Banker and Vandana Ashok Agarwal as its directors, the ministry of corporate affairs lists the Gramshree Women Empowerment as a private company incorporated on March 23, 2011 with an authorised and paid capital of Rs 1,00,000. dna repeatedly tried to contact the trust through phone and also emailed a questionnaire seeking information about its management as well as its reaction on the accusations levelled against it. dna did not get any response till the time of filing of this report. dna will publish the NGO’s version whenever we receive it.

Home Ministry suspends Teesta Setalvad’s NGO’s license for 6 months

New Delhi: In fresh crackdown on an NGO run by social activist Teesta Setalvad, the Home Ministry on Thursday suspended its registration for six months accusing the organisation of violating Foreign Currency (Regulation) Act that invites termination of its licence.

Teesta Setalvad. AFP

Teesta Setalvad. AFP

In an order, the Home Ministry said exercising the powers conferred under Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, the registration of Sabrang Trust has been suspended for a period of 180 days with effect from 10 September, 2015.

The Sabrang Trust, run by Teesta and her husband Javed Anand, can make a representation against the order within 30 days. However, if the Home Ministry is not satisfied with the reply of the NGO, its registration will be cancelled.

Another NGO run by Teesta and her husband, Citizens for Justice and Peace, has already been put under prior permission category, thus making it mandatory for the organisation to take permission from the Home Ministry before accepting or utilising any foreign contribution.

Following a recommendation of the Home Ministry, CBI has registered a case and launched a probe against Sabrang Communication and Publishing Pvt Limited, a commercial firm run by Teesta, for allegedly accepting and utilising foreign contribution in violation of FCRA.

Teesta has pursued the cases of post-Godhra riots victims in Gujarat when Narendra Modi was Chief Minister of the state.

Today’s Home Ministry order said that during the course of inspection of records of Sabrang Trust, it was noticed that both Teesta and Javed Anand are chief functionary or trustee of the NGO.

Both are also working as directors, co-editors, printers and publisher in the company namely Sabrang Communications & Publishing Pvt Limited (SCPPL) and published a magazine called ‘Communalism Combat’. SCPPL had accepted contribution from foreign source, thus violating FCRA, it said.

On inspection of accounts of Sabrang Trust, it was noticed that the Association has received total donation of Rs 48.42 lakh and Rs 49.10 lakh in 2010-11 and 2011-12 respectively out of which they have spent Rs 30.97 lakh and Rs 27.07 lakh which comes to 64.23 per cent and 55.14 per cent respectively, on administrative expenses.

As per section 8 (1)(b) of FCRA 2010 requires approval of the Home Ministry before incurring expenses on administrative head exceeding 50 per cent limit. Thus, it is a violation of FCRA, the ministry said.

During the course of inspection of books and records of the NGO by the Home Ministry, it was noticed that payments of Rs 50 lakh were made by Sabrang Trust to Sabrang Communications & Publishing Pvt, Limited which seems to have been used for personal gain.

On review of vouchers of Sabrang Trust, it has been noticed that the Association has transferred Rs 2.46 lakh from foreign contribution designated account to Sabrang Trust’s domestic account without any logical reason.

This raises the suspicion of mixing of funds by the Association and it can be treated as non-utilisation of foreign contribution for the purpose for which it was received and mixing of foreign contribution with domestic contribution. This is violation of FCRA, the ministry contended.

On review of vouchers of the Association, it is found that Sabrang Trust has made direct payments of approximately Rs 12 lakh from FCRA designated account to Citi Bank and Union Bank of India on account of credit cards belonging to Teesta and Javed Anand respectively as payments.

The cards are issued in the name of individuals and the above mentioned payments appears that the foreign contribution has been used for personal gain and not authorised as per FCRA.

Sabrang Trust paid Rs 1,174 for purchasing an internal medical policy in favour of Anand for attending a conference in Lahore and Rs 4,227 was paid to Anand for purchasing books and travel expenses for attending the People Union for Civil Liberty meeting. The Home Ministry said that from the payments it appears that foreign contribution has been used for personal gain, thus violating FCRA provisions.

The Home Ministry said that during inspection of books and records of the NGO, it was noticed that payments of Rs 50 lakh were made by Sabrang Trust to SCPPL which appears to have been used for personal gain. SCPPL is not registered under FCRA and not entitled to accept foreign contribution by any means.

On review of the registration certificate of Sabrang Trust, the Home Ministry has found that it was registered under FCRA under the nature of ‘Education and Social’. On scrutiny, it was noticed that the NGO received Rs 1.52 lakh as foreign contribution under the nature of ‘Cultural’.

Further, this amount has been reflected in annual filing of return in two different columns — Rs 1.02 lakh as under ‘Maintenance of place of historical and culture importance’ and Rs 50,000 under ‘Other expenses’.

The Home Ministry said this indicates that the NGO has received the foreign contribution for the purpose which is not permitted as per mandate of FCRA registration certificate of Sabrang Trust.

It has been noticed that the NGO has transferred Rs 2.46 lakh from its foreign contribution designated account to Sabrang Trust’s domestic account without any logical reason. This may be treated as non-utilisation of foreign contribution for the purpose for which it was received and mixing of foreign contribution with domestic contribution violating the provisions of FCRA, the Home Ministry said.

PTI

Govt cancels Greenpeace India’s FCRA licence, NGO says determined to fight order

The decision would mean that the NGO will not be able to receive from abroad the funds, which are upto 30 per cent of its overall cost of operations.

The Union Home Ministry told Delhi HC that it cancelled foreign contribution registration of Greenpeace India as it was continuing to use its FCRA accounts despite suspension of the same.

File Photo
In yet another crackdown on NGOs, government on Thursday cancelled the registration of Greenpeace India under the Foreign Contribution Regulations Act (FCRA) for its activities which allegedly hampered country’s economic growth.The Greenpeace India’s registration has been cancelled under Section 13 of the FCRA, a senior Home Ministry official said. The decision would mean that the NGO will not be able to receive from abroad the funds, which are upto 30 per cent of its overall cost of operations.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Greenpeace India has about 340 people working with it. The group tweeted about the CengtreThe Union Home Ministry today told the Delhi High Court that it cancelled foreign contribution registration of Greenpeace India as it was continuing to use its FCRA accounts despite suspension of the same. MHA, in an affidavit filed in court, has claimed that Greenpeace violated Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) by mixing its foreign and domestic contributions. The affidavit has been filed in a plea moved by the NGO challenging suspension of its FCRA registration and freezing of its foreign and domestic contribution accounts.The court had on May 27 allowed Greenpeace to use two of its accounts for the purpose of receiving and utilising fresh domestic donations for its day-to-day functioning. The Ministry had on April 9 suspended the NGO’s registration under Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) for 180 days.The Greenpeace said in its petition that the Ministry had earlier issued show cause notice to it asking why its registration should not be cancelled for allegedly transferring monies from its “FCRA-designated bank to the FCRA utilisation account and from there to five other undeclared utilisation bank accounts without informing the authority”.Greenpeace India termed the government action as an attempt to “silence campaigns” and said it will not be deterred. Vinuta Gopal, interim co-Executive Director of Greenpeace India, said Greenpeace India will continue its campaigning undeterred and is in fact launching a “new creative campaign” to highlight crackdown on civil liberties. “The cancelling of our FCRA registration is the government’s latest move in a relentless onslaught against the community’s right to dissent. It is yet another attempt to silence campaigns for a more sustainable future and transparency in public processes, Gopal said. “Cutting access to our foreign funding may be a desperate attempt to get us to cease our work but the MHA probably didn’t count on our having an amazing network of volunteers and supporters who have helped us continue our work despite the government crackdown.”Since the majority of our funding comes from Indian citizens, most of our work can indeed continue,” the Greenpeace official said.Gopal added, “in fact, we are responding to this latest melodrama by launching a new creative online campaign and are confident that people will show they are ready to fight back in style, and send a clear message to those in power: you can’t muzzle dissent in a democracy.”Hozefa Merchant, the Greenpeace Campaigner, said the government action will not affect the organisation much financially as 70 per cent of funds are generated domestically. Priya Pillai, Greenpeace activist who was earlier in January prevented from travelling to UK, said the government has been cracking down on her NGO “vengefully” but they will not be deterred.The cancellation of FCRA licence came months after the Home Ministry suspended operations of Greenpeace and blocked foreign funding alleging that the NGO had been involved in activities contrary to country’s economic progress like organising protests against coal mining, anti-govenment propaganda in abroad.Pillai was offloaded from a London-bound flight by immigration officers in New Delhi airport in January to prevent her from travelling to UK where she was to address British parliamentarians. The Delhi High Court later overturned the action by the Home Ministry and Pillai’s “offload” passport stamp was expunged in May.The Centre had in April blocked Greenpeace India’s bank accounts, following which the environmental group had to seek interim relief from the Delhi High Court. Since last one year, FCRA licence of at least 11,000 NGOs were cancelled by the government for violating various provisions of FCRA.In April, government ordered that funds coming from the US-based Ford Foundation should not be released by any bank to any Indian NGO without mandatory permission from the Home Ministry.A crisis response campaigner with Greenpeace International, Aaron Gray-Block, was denied entry into India. Three months ago as his name figured in a Home Ministry “black list”.

Relief for Ford Foundation unlikely anytime soon

“We have no plans to review the decision on Ford Foundation as of now,” a senior Home Ministry official said

The curb imposed on the US-based Ford Foundation is unlikely to be lifted anytime soon as the government has no immediate plans to review the decision to put it in ‘prior permission’ category.”We have no plans to review the decision on Ford Foundation as of now,” a senior Home Ministry official said. In April, the Home Ministry had put the American philanthropy organisation Ford Foundation under the ‘prior permission’ category following allegations that it had donated funds to some non-FCRA registered organisations and profit- making organisations.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Both acts are illegal under the Foreign Contribution Regulations Act. Putting under ‘prior permission’ category means banks will have to take prior permission from the Home Ministry before allowing any funds from Ford Foundation to be credited to bank accounts of any Indian organisation.Sources said India is unmoved by the concern expressed by the United States over crackdown on Ford Foundation. “We are aware that the (Indian) Ministry of Home Affairs suspended the registration of Greenpeace India and has placed Ford Foundation on a prior permission watch list.”We remain concerned about the difficulties caused to civil society organisations by the manner in which FCRA has been applied,” US State Department deputy acting spokesperson Marie Harf had said, adding Washington sought a “clarification” from New Delhi. Reports also suggested that a US delegation, led by under secretary for political affairs Wendy Sherman, had asked an Indian delegation in June on the restrictions imposed on Ford Foundation and some other NGOs.India has denied any suggestion of a witch hunt against Ford Foundation or any of the big NGOs that are currently under the scanner. Meanwhile, the Indian arm of the Foundation, which was not registered under FCRA, is believed to have expressed its willingness to register under Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), the sources said. The Home Ministry had recently taken a series of steps against various NGOs, including Greenpeace India and two NGOs run by social activist Teesta Setalvad. It had cancelled the registration of more than 10,000 NGOs.

Government gathers might to muzzle Teesta, say activists

Early this month, the CBI registered a case against Teesta and her husband for violating funds and under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), and for criminal conspiracy.

Teesta Setalvad
File Photo

A group of activists, social workers, lawyers and eminent media personalities on Monday held a press conference to show their solidarity with activist Teesta Setalvad, and to pointedly raise questions to the government for digging up a 12-year-old issue, timing suspiciously with the hearing of the case filed by Zakia Jafri against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and 59 others in the 2002 Godhra riots case.Social activist and writer Harsh Mander said that a state-sponsored pogrom like the Godhra riots need to be fought to ensure that this does not happen again. “If we allow state-sponsored violence to go unquestioned and unchecked, the idea of India will fall apart,” he said, citing how the victims of the 1983 Delhi riots, the 1993 Bombay riots and the 2002 Nellie massacre are still not compensated.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Teesta Setalvad, and her husband Javed Anand have been working to ensure justice for 2002 Gujarat riots victims, and has been working on 68 cases, some at the trial courts, some at the High Court, while a few at the Supreme Court. So far, 120 accused have been convicted in these cases.Early this month, the CBI registered a case against Teesta and her husband for violating funds and under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), and for criminal conspiracy. After investigations, the CBI declared her a “threat to national security”. The High Court refused her an anticipatory bail, after which she moved Supreme Court, which gave her interim relief till July 10. Teesta has made public her documents since, and her statement to the court runs to 25,000 pages. The activists questioned the timing of the case, as it coincided with the hearing of the Zakia Jafri case, adjourned at the moment as the Gujarat government said it needed more time for a response.Writer-journalist Manoj Mitta, whose book The Fiction of The Fact-finding: Modi and Godhra raised several such questions said that had it not been for Teesta, there would not have been 120 convictions in the Gulberg massacre. “The kind of persecution she is facing should be fought,” he said. Activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan said that Teesta is framed for specific reasons. “Today, the Central government is putting its might to ensure that those accused in the 2002 riots are either released or reinstated, some even in offices like the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). On the other hand, Teesta is hounded by being framed in a bogus case and without any proof, they want to have a custodial interrogation. The message is quite clear,” said Bhushan. CHARGES AGAINST TEESTAIn 2014, the Ahmedabad crime branch filed a case against Teesta Setalvad, Tanvir Jafri and others, on the behest of Feroze Khan Pathan, also a victim of Gulbarg massacre, for alleged fraud. They claimed that Teesta had collected Rs 1.51 crore to build a memorial for the 69 Gulbarga Society victims killed in the massacre. The HC pressed for her custodial interrogation, and Supreme Court in February this year stayed her arrest. In her reply, Teesta has showed that only Rs 4.6 lakh were collected for the memorial, and it remains untouched.Early this month, the CBI registered a case against Teesta and her husband for violating FCRA norms. The complaint said that she took funds from foreign bodies like the Ford Foundation without notifying the Ministry of Home Affairs, and that she did not have separate accounts for domestic and foreign funds. The complaint also said that as the editor of a monthly she wrote for other publications. Teesta’s reply, running into 25,000 pages, has made her dealings public, and she is currently under interim relief from a Supreme Court order.

Bombay HC permits Teesta Setalvad interim relief from arrest till 10 August

Mumbai: In a breather to social activist Teesta Setalvad and her husband, the Bombay High Court on Friday granted the duo 17-day interim relief from arrest in a CBI case alleging that her company received Rs 1.8 crore from abroad without mandatory approval from Centre.

Teesta Setalvad. AFP

Teesta Setalvad. AFP

Justice Mridula Bhatkar, while granting Teesta and her husband Javed Anand interim protection from arrest till 10 August, said the duo was already given protection by the sessions court.

Teesta and Anand moved the high court seeking anticipatory bail after a special CBI court on Friday rejected their pre-arrest bail pleas and also refused to extend the interim relief granted to them earlier on 17 July.

“At this stage I do not want to go into merits. Is there any chance of the accused persons absconding? If no, then interim protection can be granted for a period of two weeks,” Justice Bhatkar said.

The court directed Teesta and her husband to appear before the office of Economic Offences Wing of CBI on 27 and 30 July and on 3 and 6 August for recording their statement from 12 pm to 3 pm.

The court refused to agree to the CBI’s demand to direct the duo to appear before the agency everyday.

“They (Teesta and Javed) have been appearing before you (CBI) from July 17. You must have done some investigation. Everyday appearance is not required,” Justice Bhatkar said.

Public Prosecutor Sandeep Shinde, appearing for CBI, argued that the offence was of a serious nature and custodial interrogation was required.

The court has posted their anticipatory bail petitions for final hearing on 10 August.

Soon after the sessions court rejected her bail pleas, Teesta told the court that she was shocked and aggrieved.

“I am shocked and aggrieved by the verdict as this is a petty offence. My sympathisers feel that this is an attempt (by the government) to intimidate and possibly eliminate us by the powers (sic),” she said.

The CBI had on 8 July registered a case against Teesta and Anand alleging that her firm Sabrang Communication and Publishing Pvt Limited (SCPPL) received around 2.9 lakh USD in foreign donations in violation of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA).

PTI

‘Shocked and aggreived,’ says Teesta after CBI court rejects her anticipatory bail plea

Mumbai: A special CBI court here today rejected the anticipatory bail application of social activist Teesta Setalvad and her husband filed in connection with a case registered by CBI alleging that her company received Rs 1.8 crore from abroad without mandatory approval from Centre.
“The anticipatory bail application is rejected,” said Special judge Anis Khan while turning down the plea.

Teesta Setalvad. Image courtesy: AFPTeesta Setalvad. Image courtesy: AFP

Teesta Setalvad. Image courtesy: AFP

Setalvad and her husband Javed Anand had moved the court for bail on July 17.

Immediately after the order, Setalvad told the court that she was shocked. “I am shocked and aggrieved by the verdict as this is a petty offence. My sympathisers feel that this is an attempt (by the government) to intimidate and possibly eliminate us by the powers (sic).”

The CBI had on July 8 registered a case against Setalvad and Anand alleging that her firm Sabrang Communication and Publishing Pvt Limited (SCPPL) received around 2.9 lakh USD in foreign donations in violation of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA).

According to the agency, SCPPL was not registered under FCRA for collecting money from abroad and the amount of nearly Rs 1.8 crore (2.9 lakh USD) was, therefore, received in violation of the Act as the organisation needed to seek prior approval from the Union Home Ministry.

Teesta and her husband, through their lawyer, had told the court that they were innocent and were falsely implicated. Her advocate Mihir Desai told the court that the only reason why the agency wanted to arrest them is to humiliate them for their work in Gujarat.

However, CBI in their reply, last Friday, had said that motive behind the transfer of foreign contribution to SCPPL reflected interference towards the internal security and activities of India.

“Such act of foreign donor would prejudicially affect the security, strategic, scientific and economic interest of the state and also affect the harmony between religious, social, linguistic or regional groups, castes or communities”, the CBI had said in its reply while opposing her plea.

The agency said the allegations against them (Setalvad and Anand) are serious in nature and it is proposed to unravel all the contours of the offence and the conspiracy during the investigation

PTI

Is government muzzling civil society voice?

In a massive crackdown, the Union home ministry besides cancelling FCRA licences of 14,255 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the last two years also froze accounts of 23 associations and prohibited 20 NGOs from receiving foreign contribution.Going into a hyperbole mode, in the last one year alone home ministry has cancelled licences of 10,117 NGOs, penalised 341 by imposing a hefty fine of Rs 5.21 crore for non-submission of mandatory annual returns and imposed a fine of Rs 52 lakh on 24 associations for receipt and utilisation of foreign contribution without obtaining registration or prior permission under the FCRA.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The latest in the list of NGOs whose accounts have been frozen are Sabrang Communications & Publishing Private Limited and Greenpeace India and a couple of organisations involved in protests against Kudankulam nuclear plant.Besides, the home ministry has referred 15 cases to the CBI and 10 to state police for further investigation and prosecution. Some of the NGOs against whom a CBI inquiry has been initiated are Christina Outreach Centre, Andhra Pradesh, Centre for Promotion of Social Concerns, Tamil Nadu, Indian Development Group (India Chapter), UP, PIMS Medical and Education Charitable Society, Punjab.The severity of action against the NGOs that form the core of the civil society in India has lately brought international glare on India. When the home ministry put one of the biggest international donor Ford Foundation in the prior permission list, it prompted the USA to nudge India and be considerate towards the civil society, an important ingredient in a democracy.However, the home ministry has remained steadfast indicating that action against the NGOs will continue.”The government receives inputs from various security agencies, including Intelligence Bureau, from time to time, about the violations of FCRA. However, action is initiated against the alleged violators only after due scrutiny and following due process as prescribed in the FCRA Act,” said minister of state for home, Kiren Rijiju”Question of muzzling NGOs/civil society by government does not arise as expeditious action is taken as and when adverse inputs of violations of provisions of the Act are received against any association. Even then adequate opportunity is given to them and due process of law is followed,” added Rijiju. Hit hard(Action against NGOs since 2014) Notices issued — 10,343Registration canceled — 10,117Cases referred to CBI — 15To state police — 10Accounts frozen — 23Prohibited receiving foreign funds — 20No. of NGOs penalised — 365Penalty amount — Rs 5.73 crore

Teesta Setalvad records statement before CBI in FCRA violation case

The CBI, which registered a case on July 8 against Sabrang Communication and Publishing Pvt Limited, has alleged that SCPPL was not registered under FCRA for collecting money from abroad and the amount of nearly Rs 1.8 crore (2.9 USD) was, therefore, received in violation of the Act as the organisation needed to seek prior approval of the Union Home Ministry.
File Photo
dna Research & Archives
Activist Teesta Setalvad on Monday recorded her statement before the CBI in connection with a case against her firm for allegedly receiving around USD 2.9 lakh in foreign donations in violation of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA).She had been asked by a local court to appear before the central agency by Tuesday as on Friday special CBI Judge Anis Khan had reserved an order on the anticipatory bail applications filed by Setalvad and her husband Javed Anand till tomorrow while granting them interim protection from arrest.The CBI, which registered a case on July 8 against Sabrang Communication and Publishing Pvt Limited, has alleged that SCPPL was not registered under FCRA for collecting money from abroad and the amount of nearly Rs 1.8 crore (2.9 USD) was, therefore, received in violation of the Act as the organisation needed to seek prior approval of the Union Home Ministry. The CBI sleuths searched four places including premises owned by Setalvad, Anand, an associate Gulam Mohammed Peshimam and the office of SCPPL on July 14.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The probe agency had opposed the bail plea contending the motive behind the transfer of foreign contribution to SCPPL reflected “interference towards the internal security and activities of India” and also contested Setalvad”s claim that the money received was a fee for consultancy.”During the search, an agreement dated September 22, 2006 between Ford Foundation (a US-based NGO) and SCPPL was seized which clearly showed that the remittances were grants. There is no mention of any ”consultancy” therein,” the CBI told the court.The CBI, which is probing the firm”s accounts from 2004 to 2014, claimed to have recovered documents showing that the money received from the Ford Foundation had not been cleared by the Home Ministry. Setalvad, during the July 14 searches by CBI, had termed the action by the probe agency as a” shameful political vendetta”.”The Zakia Jafri case begins its final hearings on July 27 2015. The Naroda Patiya appeals (Maya Kodnani and Babu Bajrangi) are being heard in the Gujarat High Court tomorrow. This is nothing but a bid to subvert the cause of public justice and ensure that no justice happens in these cases,” she had said in a statement. Kodnani was a minister in the Gujarat government under Narendra Modi and Bajrangi is a notorious Hindu right wing activist. According to the rules, an organisation or a private firm can accept donations from overseas only if it has FCRA registration. The donation was, therefore, a “serious violation” of FCRA provisions, the Home Ministry had said while ordering a CBI probe.A bank account of the firm located in Juhu, Mumbai, had also been frozen under instructions from the Ministry. The Gujarat government had asked the Home Ministry to take action against Ford Foundation, alleging that the US-based organisation was “interfering in internal affairs” of the country and also “abetting communal disharmony” through an NGO run by Setalvad. The Home Ministry had forwarded the complaint to the CBI, which then filed the case after verification.In April, the government had ordered that funds from Ford Foundation should not be released by any bank to an Indian NGO without mandatory permission from the Home Ministry. Setalvad and the Gujarat government have been locked in several legal tussles since the post-Godhra riots of 2002.While she has filed many cases against government functionaries in connection with the riots, the state police have filed a case of alleged embezzlement of funds against her over promised construction of a memorial to the victims of the communal carnage.

Ford Foundation likely to get relief from government

The Indian arm of Ford Foundation, facing government scrutiny over alleged irregularities, is likely to get relief as it is ready to come under Indian laws even as the Home Ministry is considering its request for release of funds for paying its staffers’ salaries.

The Indian arm of Ford Foundation, facing government scrutiny over alleged irregularities, is likely to get relief as it is ready to come under Indian laws even as the Home Ministry is considering its request for release of funds for paying its staffers’ salaries.Top government sources said Ford Foundation, which was not registered in India, has expressed its willingness to register under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) and not the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA).”Since they do not receive any funds and just pass on funds that come from their parent organisation, we are ready to consider their request to register under FEMA,” sources said. Home Ministry is also examining a request by Ford Foundation that it be allowed to use funds to pay the salaries of its employees in India and meet other establishment expenses.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”We are examining it (the request),” sources said.Home Ministry had put Ford Foundation under the “prior permission” list in April following allegations that it had donated funds to non-FCRA registered organisations and profit- making organisation. Both the acts are illegal under FCRA.Asked about the series of action taken by Home Ministry against various NGOs, sources said the government has only taken an initiative to ensure complete compliance with the law.”Nothing more, nothing less. There is no crackdown,” sources said. Home Ministry has recently taken a series of actions against various NGOs, including Greenpeace India and two NGOs run by social activist Teesta Setalvad, cancelled the registration of more than 10,000 NGOs and put Ford Foundation under “prior permission”.

Teesta Setalvad’s lawyers slam CBI for calling her a ‘threat to national security’

Social activist Teesta Setalvad’s lawyers have hit out at the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for calling her a threat to national security to a Mumbai Court on Friday. The agency has been opposing the anticipatory bail of the activist in a case of alleged violations related to foreign funding of her NGOs.

PTI photo
Social activist Teesta Setalvad’s lawyers have hit out at the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for calling her a threat to national security to a Mumbai Court on Friday. The agency has been opposing the anticipatory bail of the activist in a case of alleged violations related to foreign funding of her NGOs.Ms Setalvad’s lawyer, Vijay Hiremath told NDTV, “It’s extremely ridiculous that she is a threat to national security. The documents that were seized have been earlier given to other investigation agencies as well. Also no foreign currency was found in the house.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The CBI had registered a case against Setalvad in connection with alleged violations of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) on July 8. CBI claims that Sabrang Communication and Publishing Private Limited received around US $2.9 lakh (Rs. 1.8 crore) in donations from overseas in violation of FCRA.Setalvad had approached the court for anticipatory bail on Friday, and was granted her protection from arrest till July 21, when it will pass an order on the bail application. Setalvad’s lawyers claim that there was no violation of FCRA guidelines.This donation was, therefore, a ‘serious violation’ of FCRA provisions which mandate funding from a foreign source to only those recipients who have FCRA registration, according to the home ministry, which had then ordered a CBI probe.Ms Setalvad, who has for years worked for victims of the 2002 riots in Gujarat, has alleged persecution by the ruling BJP. She has been accused by the Gujarat police of embezzling funds meant for a riots museum.According to rules, an organisation or a private firm can accept donations from overseas only after it has been registered under FCRA.

FCRA case: Teesta Setalvad, husband get interim protection from arrest

Social activist Teesta Setalvad and her husband were on Friday granted interim protection from arrest after they filed anticipatory bail plea in a court in connection with a case of alleged violation of foreign funding norms by her publishing company.

Social activist Teesta Setalvad and her husband were on Friday granted interim protection from arrest after they filed anticipatory bail plea in a court in connection with a case of alleged violation of foreign funding norms by her publishing company.CBI has alleged that Setalvad”s company received Rs 1.8 crore from abroad without approval of the Union Government.Special CBI Judge Anis Khan reserved the order on the bail application till Tuesday and granted Setalvad and her husband Javed Anand interim protection from arrest. The court directed the couple, who has termed the case as “false” and smacking of “political vendetta”, to appear before CBI every day till Tuesday.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Central agency on July 8 registered a case against Setalvad and Anand alleging her firm Sabrang Communication and Publishing Pvt Ltd (SCPPL) received around USD 2.9 lakh (Rs 1.8 crore) in donations from overseas in violation of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA).According to the agency, SCPPL was not registered under FCRA for collecting money from abroad and the said amount was, therefore, received in violation of the Act under which the firm needed to seek prior approval from the Home Ministry.Setalvad and her husband, through their lawyer, told the court they were innocent and have been falsely implicated. Her advocate Mihir Desai argued that the only reason why the agency wanted to arrest them is to humiliate them for their work in Gujarat.However, CBI said motive behind the transfer of foreign contribution to SCPPL reflected “interference towards the internal security and activities of India”.”Such act of foreign donor would prejudicially affect the security, strategic, scientific and economic interest of the state and also affect the harmony between religious, social, linguistic or regional groups, castes or communities”, the CBI said in their reply while opposing the application.The reply further read that the allegations against the couple (Setalvad and Anand) are serious in nature and it is proposed to unravel all contours of the offence and the conspiracy during the investigation. CBI rejected Setalvad”s allegation that the FIR was registered against her and her husband for the purpose of harassing and torturing them.”The applicants are deliberately mixing up the offences alleged against them with non-related issues in order to divert attention from the serious charges against them.” The CBI also said when the premises linked to the couple were searched on July 14, there was total resistance and non-cooperation from their side.”During the search, an agreement dated September 22, 2006 between Ford Foundation (a US-based NGO) and SCPPL were seized which clearly showed that the remittances were grants. There is no mention of any ”consultancy” therein”, it said.The agency said there was a “deep rooted” conspiracy between Setalvad, Anand and others in connection with this case and there is a very possibility that they or some of their co-conspirators may have received the donations in cash from foreign sources or other prohibited sources.”In this context, a sustained custodial interrogation of the applicants in isolation is of utmost necessity to unearth all the facts and circumstances of the case and to unravel the entire contours of the conspiracy,” said the CBI while opposing the couple”s application for pre-arrest bail.

Foreign funding row: Teesta Setalvad, husband get interim protection from arrest

Mumbai: Social activist Teesta Setalvad and her husband were on Friday granted interim protection from arrest after they filed anticipatory bail plea in a court in Mumbai in connection with a case of alleged violation of foreign funding norms by her publishing company.

CBI has alleged that Setalvad’s company received Rs 1.8 crore from abroad without approval of the Union Government.

Teesta Setalvad. AFPTeesta Setalvad. AFP

Teesta Setalvad. AFP

Special CBI Judge Anis Khan reserved the order on the bail application till Tuesday and granted Setalvad and her husband Javed Anand interim protection from arrest.

The court directed the couple, who has termed the case as “false” and smacking of “political vendetta”, to appear before CBI every day till Tuesday.

The Central agency on 8 July registered a case against Setalvad and Anand alleging her firm Sabrang Communication and Publishing Pvt Ltd (SCPPL) received around USD 2.9 lakh (Rs 1.8 crore) in donations from overseas in violation of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA).

According to the agency, SCPPL was not registered under FCRA for collecting money from abroad and the said amount was, therefore, received in violation of the Act under which the firm needed to seek prior approval from the Home Ministry.

Setalvad and her husband, through their lawyer, told the court they were innocent and have been falsely implicated. Her advocate Mihir Desai argued that the only reason why the agency wanted to arrest them is to humiliate them for their work in Gujarat.

However, CBI said motive behind the transfer of foreign contribution to SCPPL reflected “interference towards the internal security and activities of India”.

“Such act of foreign donor would prejudicially affect the security, strategic, scientific and economic interest of the state and also affect the harmony between religious, social, linguistic or regional groups, castes or communities”, the CBI said in their reply while opposing the application.

The reply further read that the allegations against the couple (Setalvad and Anand) are serious in nature and it is proposed to unravel all contours of the offence and the conspiracy during the investigation.

PTI

Temporary breather to Teesta Setalvad’s NGOs

Sabarang Trust and Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), run by Teesta and her husband Javed Anand, were served the notices nearly a month ago following an on-site inspection of their records and books of accounts carried out by Home Ministry officials in April this year.

Government has given a temporary relief to social activist Teesta Setalvad’s two NGOs, which allegedly violated Foreign Currency Regulation Act, by allowing her more time to reply to its showcause notices.Sabarang Trust and Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), run by Teesta and her husband Javed Anand, were served the notices nearly a month ago following an on-site inspection of their records and books of accounts carried out by Home Ministry officials in April this year. “Even after almost a month, no reply has come from the two NGOs. We have extended the deadline by a fortnight and asked them to reply by mid-July to our showcause notices. If the NGOs do not reply even then, we will have no option but to cancel their FCRA registration,” a Home Ministry official said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>During the probe under Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), Home Ministry officials found that Teesta and her husband were running a magazine “Communalism Combat” as co-editors as well as printer and publisher of their company Sabrang Communication and Publishing Pvt Ltd (SCPPL) and allegedly received foreign contribution. Under FCRA, no foreign contribution shall be accepted by any correspondent, columnist, cartoonist, editor, owner, printer or publisher of a registered newspaper.CJP, which has been fighting cases for victims of 2002 Gujarat riots, had received a total foreign contribution of around Rs 1.18 crore from 2008-09 to 2013-14. According to the notice, more than 80 per cent or nearly Rs 95 lakh was spent for legal aid. While the entity was registered for ‘Educational and Economic’ purposes, it received foreign contribution for activities such as ‘Legal Aid’ which is covered under purpose ‘Social’. Hence, it violated FCRA rules, they contended.”On review of vouchers of the association, it was found that Sabrang Trust has made payment of Rs 12 lakh from FCRA-designated account to Citi Bank and Union Bank of India on account of credit facilities taken through credit cards belonging to Setalvad and Anand. “This amounts to use of foreign contribution for the purposes not authorised as per the provisions of FCRA 2010. Thus, the association has violated Section 8(1) (a) of FCRA 2010,” the Home Ministry notice said.

MHA likely to order CBI probe against Teesta Setalvad’s company

Being a private limited company not having FCRA registration, the SCPPL was not entitled to receive foreign funds and action under section 43 of the FCR Act can be initiated against it, Union home ministry sources said.

Union home ministry may initiate a CBI probe against Teesta Setalvad-owned company Sabrang Communications and Publishing Private Limited (SCPPL) for receiving foreign funds from Ford foundation.Being a private limited company not having FCRA registration, the SCPPL was not entitled to receive foreign funds and action under section 43 of the FCR Act can be initiated against it, Union home ministry sources said.According to section 43 of the FCRA, notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, any offence punishable under this Act may also be investigated into by such authority as the Central Government may specify in this behalf.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A notification issued in 2011 extends powers of section 43 by allowing investigation by the CBI with regard to offences that involve a prima-facie violation of the provisions of the FCR Act, 2010 involving receipt of foreign contribution of an amount of one crore rupees or equivalent or above and in any other case which may be specifically entrusted to the CBI by the Central government under the said Act.The sources claimed the home ministry during its inspection of the company’s accounts found that an amount of Rs 50 lakh was allegedly transferred to it by Setalvad’s NGO Sabrang Trust which also was in violation of FCRA norms.However, the Union home ministry, does not find Ford Foundation culpable for giving funds to the SCPPL and is ready to remove its name from the prior permission category list once the Foundation fulfills the FCRA criteria.The Ford Foundation, according to home ministry sources, was allowed to set up its office on the request of India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and was especially giving permission by the department of economic affairs (DEA) to grant funds in various fields.”Its (Ford Foundation) existence precedes FCRA and it was functioning as per the rules of DEA. However, as the FCRA registration is mandatory for NGOs and foreign donor, it should also adhere to the FCRA. Once it does, in all likelihood it would be removed from the prior permission category,” said sources.The trigger to initiate CBI probe against SCPPL lies in the Gujarat government representation on “Embezzlement of fund by Teesta Setalvad and others” to Home Ministry that had also accused Ford Foundation for interfering in the Country’s internal affairs.The letter had raised questions on SCPPL, a private company ‘limited by shares’, being given grant of $2, 90,000 by Ford Foundation.Grant of $2,90,000 to SCPPL covers $1,68,204 in salaries for the staff of the company and $47,546 for its office expenses. Thus about 75% of the grant is meant for running the company’s office and not for realizing any clear objective, said Gujarat government’s letter.”During the course of investigation it is revealed that Sabrang Trust and Sabrang Communication & Publishing Pvt Ltd (SCPPL) has received a total grant of $ 5,40,000 from Ford Foundation, a US NGO having office at 55 Lodhi estate. It is revealed during the course of investigation that Ford Foundation, established with the stated goal of promoting communal harmony, democratic principles and social justice has been indulging in covert activities of promoting interests that are completely contradictory to the said goals,” the Gujarat government letter said.

Licence Raj redux: MHA’s new proposal is draconian and arbitrary, say NGOs

New Delhi: After cancelling the license of 4,470 non-government organisations (NGOs) for alleged violation of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), the government is set to come up with “Licence Raj” or “Inspector Raj” to regulate such set-ups. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has proposed a new declaration asking NGOs to pledge at the time of registration and renewal of registration that they won’t use foreign funds for any activity “detrimental to national interest, likely to affect public interest or likely to prejudicially affect the security, scientific, strategic or economic interest of the state”.

But the draft of the proposed amendment to the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Rules, 2011, has not defined the above mentioned phrases and explained who will decide what is in the interest of nation and what is not.

As per the draft rule, the not-for-profit sector will have to give details of their social media accounts, if any.

The proposed rules states that if an NGO is granted a certificate of registration or prior permission, it “shall place the audited statement of accounts on receipts and utilisation of the foreign contribution, including income and expenditure statement, receipt and payment account and balance sheet for every financial year beginning on the first day of April within nine months of the closure of the financial year on its website…”.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

NGOs receiving foreign contribution will place details of foreign contribution received within seven days of the receipt on its website, but banks will have to send a report to the Central government within 48 hours of any transaction.

While the government says asking the NGOs to give such undertakings “has a background”, rights activists have described it “draconian”, “arbitrary” and designed to “suppress civic dissent of any kind”.

“It is worrying that civil society organizations are being labelled and targeted. Intelligence reports are being selectively leaked to paint NGOs in poor light, disbursal of funds are being subjected to case-by-case clearance, funds are being frozen and their activities are reportedly being placed on watch lists. All these are being done to suppress civic dissent of any kind,” Harsh Mander, director of the Centre for Equity Studies, told Firstpost.

He asks how it is against the interest of the nation to talk about malnutrition, pollution, green energy, forceful eviction of people in the name of development and other issues of public concerns.

The Intelligence Bureau has recently said in its report on the economic impact of foreign funded-NGOs that foreign interests are working to sabotage the country’s economy through a handful of NGOs.

Activist Venkatesh Nayak, coordinator of Access to Information programme, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), feels mentioning undefined phrases like “national interest” or “public interest” in the declaration and not the proposed rules are not only “unlawful” and “arbitrary” but aimed at promoting “Licence Raj” or “Inspector Raj”.

“What is in the interest of the country and people are constitutional matters and can be decided by the court. But in this case the decision will be made by a secretary or under secretary rank officer, which is dangerous. If the Centre wants us to give the declaration, it should provide the definitions and mention it in the rules,” he told Firstpost.

The proposed declaration, he says, in absence of definition can be used as a tool to harass organisations that question government moves and policies.

Talking about provisions of filing details of funding and expenditure, he added, “All NGO are expected to file details of their funding and expenditure online, which is not a bad idea. But how many NGOs have access to Internet. All NGOs do not operate in urban centres” and said, “this kind of regulations are not expected from a government, which talks about Sabka Saath (together with all).”

“Why us only? Why the firms that bring in foreign direct investment also not asked to give a similar undertaking,” asked Harsh Jaitli, chief executive officer of Voluntary Action Network India (VANI), a body that works to promote volunteering.

“Accusing the NGOs of working against the interest of the nation and stalling its growth and development, a threat perception from NGOs is being created to develop fear psychosis in civil society organisations and donors,” he alleged.

Supreme Court lawyer Kabir Dixit, who has challenged the validity of FCRA before the apex court on behalf of the Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF), says most of the terms of the undertaking are not defined by law. “If an NGO is working for legitimate cause with legitimate resources cannot be brought under scrutiny,” he said adding that NGOs are “not are parts of the civil society and regulating them through a draconian laws like FCRA is in fact an attempt to curb or criminalize the right to dissent”.

Asked why he feels that FCRA is a “draconian”, he explained, “Organisation or individuals who do not take part in electoral politics are also ‘political’ – as per Rule 3 of FCRA Rules 2011 – if they take part in protests such as strikes, dharnas, bands, jail bharo or rasta roko. And hence, no grant can be made to them. All civil rights organisations have to organise or participate in such protests in support of public causes, therefore their objectives are ‘political’ and in ‘violation’ of the FCRA. Hence, they can be booked under the law.”

As per the existing Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Rules, 2011, NGOs have to declare that they have not been blacklisted, do not publish newspapers or broadcast it and are not a political outfit.

“In nut shell, the sole aim of the FCRA is to curtail the activities of NGOs and silence legitimate questioning of government policies,” he alleged. The concerned organizations have claimed that the report is not only baseless, but also motivated by a desire to.

Academic-activist Madhu Kishwar, who is the founder of Manushi Sangathan, which works for democratic reforms, describes the declaration “arbitrary” and “irrational”. “I, not the third-grade babu, should have the right to decide what is in the interest of my country and its economy. NGOs should have all the freedoms,” she told Firstpost.

But at the same time, she opposes not-for-profits accepting foreign funds. “Many NGOs influence government policies at the behest of their foreign funders. Such organisations cannot be allowed to divide the society in the guise of democratic rights. Criticise the government, oppose its anti-people policies and raise voice against all kinds of injustice, but do it strictly with the help of domestic resources,” she added.

Defending the government for coming with the draft rule, BJP spokesperson GVL Narsimha Rao says there is a background to declaration. “FCRA has been massively violated by NGOs. Foreign funds have been diverted for illegal purposes,” he said stating that “making a commitment and giving details of income, expenditure and returns will give a clear picture where the money is coming and what purposes it is being used for. There is no need to raise a hue and cry over the proposed amendment in the FCRA and declarations sought at the time of registration and its renewal”.

He said the sole intention of asking an organisation to give the undertakings is to ensure that their activities are in compliance of the law of the land.

FCRA

Delhi HC allows Greenpeace India to operate two domestic accounts

New Delhi: In a relief for Greenpeace India,Delhi High Court on Wednesday allowed it to use two of its accounts for the purpose of receiving and utilising fresh domestic donations for its day-to-day functioning, telling the government it cannot choke them of their funds.

Greenpeace India. PTI

Greenpeace India. PTI

Justice Rajiv Shakdher also allowed the NGO to liquidate its fixed deposits, saying these and fresh donations be used for its aims and objectives and in accordance with law.

The court said the source of the fixed deposits could be determined by the government in the course of its probe and directed it to decide within eight weeks the NGO’s application under Rule 14 of Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Rules (FCRR) which says that 25 per cent of the unutilised amount in the FCRA account can be used with government approval.

The government had cancelled Greenpeace’s registration under Foreign Contribution Regulations Act (FCRA) on grounds of allegedly violating the norms by opening five accounts to use foreign donations without informing concerned authorities.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) also told the court that the NGO had violated FCRA by merging its foreign donations with domestic contributions.

The court also pulled up the banks with whom Greenpeace had domestic accounts for denying access to it despite an earlier high court order allowing them to use the accounts.

It asked the banks to explain why its order of January this year was violated. “Do you go by orders of the court or that of the government,” it asked and added “you have to follow court’s judgement.”

On Tuesday, the MHA had defended the cancellation of FCRA registration of Greenpeace and said the NGO has already applied for seeking benefits under Rule 14 which has not been disclosed to the court. It had also claimed that the NGO was not using the donations for the purpose they were received.

Greenpeace had told the court that due to freeze on its domestic accounts, it has lost donations to the extent of Rs 1.25 crore only this month which were made by its Indian contributors.
It had also claimed that if the court does not intervene, then it would lose the same amount of domestic donations in June as well.

PTI

Centre defends cancellation of FCRA registration of Greenpeace before HC

New Delhi: The Union government on Tuesday defended its decision to cancel the foreign contribution registration of Greenpeace India before Delhi High Court, saying the NGO had violated the norms by opening five accounts to utilise foreign donations without informing the relevant authorities.

Greenpeace-IndiaGreenpeace-IndiaThe Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), in an affidavit before Justice Rajiv Shakdher, charged Greenpeace with violating Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) by merging its foreign donations with domestic contributions.

The ministry also told the court that on the question of releasing funds for the NGO’s day-to-day expenses, “statutory remedy is available under Rule 14 of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Rules (FCRR)” which provides that 25 per cent of the unutilised amount in the FCRA account can be used with government approval.

Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Sanjay Jain, appearing for MHA, said Greenpeace has already applied for seeking benefits under Rule 14 which has not been disclosed to the court.

He also claimed that the NGO was not using the donations for the purpose they were received.

The government affidavit said, “it was found that petitioner (Greenpeace) receives huge amount of foreign contribution running into crores of rupees which is though deposited in FCRA account, is diverted to such other utilisation accounts in which foreign contribution has been merged with domestic receipts contrary to the Act”.

Greenpeace, during the hearing, told the court that due to freeze on its domestic accounts, it has lost donations to the extent of Rs 1.25 crore only this month which were made by its Indian contributors.

It said if the court does not intervene, then it would lose the same amount of domestic donations in June as well.

PTI

Greenpeace replies to govt show-cause notice, slams ‘unfounded’ claims

New Delhi: Greenpeace India on Friday accused the government of using “unfounded” allegations in an attempt to “silence” it as the NGO submitted a comprehensive rebuttal to the Home Ministry’s show-cause and demanded immediate unblocking of its domestic bank accounts.

Greenpeace India.Greenpeace India.

Greenpeace India.

In its 26-page rebuttal on allegations involving its internal finances and its compliance with the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act (FCRA), the NGO said that the show-cause notice was “riddled” with clerical errors and baseless allegations.

It further accused the Home Ministry of “leaking misinformation” to the media instead of abiding by the principles of natural justice and also charged that it had failed to respond to its own requests for documents.

“We are confident that this response establishes our legitimacy beyond any doubt. We have addressed every allegation made against us and responded in a transparent and honest way throughout.

“In contrast, the MHA has used unfounded allegations and arbitrary penalties in a blatant attempt to silence us. We remain proud of our campaigns for clean air, water and affordable energy, and refuse to be intimidated by such dirty tricks,” said Samit Aich, executive director, Greenpeace India.

The government has barred Greenpeace India from receiving foreign funds by suspending its licence for six months and freezing all its accounts after alleging that it has “prejudicially” affected the country’s interests.

The rebuttal, which was delivered in person today by an official delegation from Greenpeace India, comes after the NGO recently said it was staring at an “imminent” shutdown within a month in the absence of funds for payment of staff salaries.

Elaborating on some key “weaknesses” in Home Ministry’s case and replying to claims that it had made incorrect statements about foreign contributions, the NGO said that the difference between the Greenpeace and MHA figures is just 0.64 per cent of its entire foreign funding over six years.

“The FCRA only targets ‘knowing errors’. There is clearly no reason for Greenpeace India to either overstate or understate such a small amount knowingly or intentionally,” it said.

PTI

Those who act peacefully for change are not anti-govt: US tells India on crackdown on NGOs

New Delhi: The US on Wednesday hit out at Modi government for the punitive action against scores of NGOs, saying those who act peacefully to seek change are not anti-government and not trying to weaken national security.

US criticised India on the recent crackdown on NGOs.

US criticised India on the recent crackdown on NGOs.

US Ambassador Richard Verma further said citizens have a “inalienable right” in a democratic society to argue peacefully and ask questions or challenge laws.

“I read with some concern the recent press reports on challenges faced by the NGOs operating in India. Because a vibrant civil society is so important to both of our democratic traditions, I do worry about the potentially chilling effects of these regulatory steps focused on NGOs,” Verma said.

He was delivering a lecture on “Foundation of the US-India Strategic-Plus Relationship” at Ananta Aspean Institute, a think-tank.

In a crackdown on NGOs allegedly receiving illegal foreign funds, the government last month had cancelled licences of nearly 9,000 such entities for violation of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA).

The US-based Ford Foundation has also been put on the ‘watch list’ by the Home Ministry, which directed that funds coming from the international donor should not be released by any bank to any Indian NGO without mandatory permission from it. The government had also barred Greenpeace India from receiving foreign funds with immediate effect.

Noting that it was natural to have areas of disagreement between the two countries, he said he was looking forward to some tough discussions with India on certain issues, indicating that action against NGOs may be one of them.

“I also know there will be times when we disagree, and I look forward to those conversations, too. Yes, I look forward to the tough discussions because my argument is not that our two sovereign countries must be exactly the same,” he said.

After the Ford Foundation was put on the watch list, the US State Department had protested and the issue was also reportedly raised by under secretary for political affairs Wendy Sherman during her meetings with senior Indian officials here last week.

PTI

Ford Foundation on govt’s watch list, needs MHA nod for giving grants

Trouble is brewing for one of the foremost funding agencies in the world, Ford Foundation, as the Ministry of Home Affairs has placed it under the watch list in “national interest and security ” of the country. This means that all its funds coming into India will first have to be scrutinised and cleared by the home ministry.

“Among the violations noticed, it was found that the Ford Foundation had been involved in funding non-FCRA registered entities which amounts to serious violation of the FCRA 2010 law,” a home ministry spokesperson was quoted as saying by the Economic Times. The Ford Foundation is on the watch list based on inputs received from security agencies, he added.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh. AFPUnion Home Minister Rajnath Singh. AFP

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh. AFP

However,  according to a NDTV report, the Ford Foundation had issued a statement saying, ” We have not been contacted directly by MHA and have no information about latest news reports.”

The action against Ford Foundation comes days after another foreign NGO – Greenpeace India – earned a negative report from the Intelligence Bureau. The IB reportedly advised the finance ministry to remove any income-tax exemption citing alleged financial irregularities.

Putting Ford Foundation on prior permission list, MHA has ordered that all the funds coming from Ford Foundation, US, for any agency or NGOs in country will first need to be cleared by the ministry. The action has been taken under section 46 of the FCRA,a report in The Economic Times said.

As per the new directives from the Home Ministry, RBI will notify all banks and their branches in India that any transaction executed by Ford Foundation through its bank accounts should have prior approval of the ministry. The Centre has already blocked around $5 million in grants in the last few months, The Economic Times report said.

On 15 April, the Gujarat government sought a probe into the role of activist Teesta Setalvad’s NGO alleging that it misused funds received from a foreign donor (Ford Foundation) to create ‘communal disharmony’.

“We learnt that the funds which they received, especially from the (US-based) Ford Foundation, were actually used for disturbing the communal harmony and carrying out anti-national propaganda against India in foreign countries,” Gujarat Minister of State for Home Rajnikant Patel told PTI. “We have written a letter to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh seeking probe into the role of Setalvad’s NGO (Sabrang Trust) after we found out funds given to the NGO were misused.”

“During the investigation of Gulberg Society museum funds embezzlement case, these things came to light,” Patel said. The Ford Foundation had given more than $500,000 to Setalvad’s NGO, he said.

According to The Indian Express, the Gujarat government said in its letter to the Union Home Ministry, “It is revealed during the course of investigation (in the riot relief fund embezzlement case) that Ford Foundation, established with the stated goal of promoting communal harmony, democratic principles and social justice, has been indulging in covert activities of promoting interests that are completely contradictory to the said goals.”

The Gujarat government and Setalvad are already embroiled in legal battles.

Few days ago, Greenpeace India also faced the ire of the Centre, as the government froze the NGO’s bank accounts on the grounds that it was encouraging anti-development campaigns. The government also temporarily suspended the registration of Greenpeace India Society under the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act 2010 (FCRA).

Rejecting that Greenpeace India was working to protect the environment, the home ministry felt to the contrary saying that it was “hurting our national interest”. Seven bank accounts of Greenpeace in IDBI Bank, ICICI Bank and Yes Bank were frozen with immediate effect and the NGO was told that it can appeal against the order in 30 days.

Greenpeace India reacts to MHA notice; says ‘will not be cowed down’

File Photo
dna Research & Archives
On Thursday, the Government barred Greenpeace India from receiving foreign funds with immediate effect. It also suspended its licence for six months and froze all its accounts, alleging it has “prejudicially” affected the country’s public and economic interests.In an order sent to Greenpeace India, the Home Ministry said that the licence of the organisation will also be cancelled permanently if the NGO fails to make satisfactory presentation to the government.”..the association has under reported and repeatedly mentioned incorrect amount of foreign contribution received in violation of the FCRA. The most glaring example being foreign contribution opening balance for 2008-09, which was reported as NIL in auditor’s certificate but was actually Rs 6.6 crore. The Greenpeace India subsequently admitted the same and claimed it to be a typographical error, which is not tenable,” it said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>(Read the MHA notice here.)With government tightening norms of fundings to NGOs, security agencies have alleged that nearly 200 foreign donors were indulging in money laundering under the garb of donating money to some of these organisations.Reacting to the show cause notice, Greenpeace India on their blog said that they will not be cowed down by the attempts made by MHA and the government. Greenpeace India Executive Director, Samit Aich said in a statement, “This is a smear, pure and simple. All of this was put before the Delhi High Court when we brought a case against the Centre, and the court decided in our favour. This feels like a revealing moment, one that says much more about the MHA than it does about Greenpeace. We believe in the Indian legal system. A campaign is being waged against dissent, but we will not be cowed.”The NGO took to Twitter to defend the donations that they have been receiving. Greenpeace India also released their funding sources and figures in the financial year 2014-2015. According to that report, Greenpeace International contributes upto 23%, Bertha Foundation- 9% and Indian Supporters contribute upto 68% of the NGO’s funding. The report further states that the NGO received Rs 30.36 crore in the financial year 2014-2015, of which Rs 20.76 crore was given by Indian supporters.(Read the full report here.)Sameer Aich further added that “We will continue to work towards clean air, clean water and inclusive development in India because we believe that every citizen is entitled to it. Our work is supported by people of this country and 70 percent of Greenpeace India’s funds come from Indian donors.”Referring to the last clash between the NGO and MHA, Greenpeace India said, “On January 20, the Delhi High Court had directed the MHA to transfer the blocked foreign funds from Greenpeace International and Climate Works Foundation to Greenpeace India’s accounts declaring MHA’s actions to be arbitrary, illegal and unconstitutional upholding the legitimacy of the issues that the NGO takes up in India. The High Court observed that the Ministry of Home Affairs in its reply had stated that Greenpeace India can have access to all other foreign funds except Greenpeace International as Greenpeace International has been put on a watch-list. But it was observed that no material was put on record against Greenpeace International.”(With Agency Inputs)

Home Ministry suspends Greenpeace India’s registration, freezes all 7 bank accounts

The Home Ministry on Thursday suspended the registration of Greenpeace India under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) and froze all seven bank accounts of the NGO, alleging that the organisation was encouraging ‘anti-development’ campaigns.

Govt suspended all the seven bank accounts of Greenpeace India. Agencies

Govt suspended all the seven bank accounts of Greenpeace India. Agencies

The seven bank accounts of Greenpeace in IDBI Bank, ICICI Bank and Yes Bank have been frozen with immediate effect, according to reports. MHA has also issued a show-cause notice to the NGO, asking why its registration should not be cancelled.

“The UK Parliament had invited Greenpeace India to “testify” against the Indian government in a formal hearing, A UK-based television channel had also sought to internationalise related issues last year,” The Hindu quoted an MHA official as saying.

The report also said that government agencies had found that various UK-based cyber experts and activists had visited the organisation’s office in India to allegedly support it in organising protests.

“This is extremely unfortunate. It is absolutely not the way a government should be working against an organisation which wants to work for the welfare of the scoiety,” Divya Raghunathan, a Greenpeace activist told CNN-IBN.

Greenpeace India had alleged on Wednesday that the Union Home Ministry was “once again” seeking to block foreign funds being sent to it and said it was going to seeking legal advice against the move.

“The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has recently again sought to block Greenpeace India’s access to funds from Greenpeace International, with Euro 148,608 transferred on March 23 being put on hold.

“Greenpeace is seeking legal advice in the matter as the Delhi High Court in January had ordered that Greenpeace India be allowed to access funds sent by Greenpeace International,” it had said in a statement.

Samit Aich, Executive Director of Greenpeace India, had said that the MHA’s repeated moves to restrict the NGO’s funding and the movement of its personnel were clear attempts to “silence criticism and dissent”.

“As an organisation registered to receive foreign funds, we have been and will continue to remain transparent and in compliance with FCRA,” he had said.

The NGO had also said that, as per its provisional fund-raising figures for the financial year ending 31 March, the group received “Rs 30.36 crore, of which Rs 20.76 crore was given by supporters within India.”

“The balance of Rs 9.61 crore was received via foreign donations largely from Greenpeace International and the Bertha Foundation,” it had added.

(With inputs from PTI)

Government clamps down on four US NGOs

In a move that could trigger controversy before US president Barack Obama’s visit, Centre has clamped down on four American NGOs — Avaaz, Bank Information Centre (BIC), Sierra Club and 350.org – dealing with issues on climate change.Union home ministry sources said the action was taken as irregularities were found in the funds being transferred. The funds received by the NGOs were being transferred in to the individual or personal accounts and not into the accounts approved to receive foreign funding under the Foreign Control regulation Act (FCRA).Following home ministry’s observation, the Reserve Bank of India has restricted all funding to four American NGOs operating in India after the government found them allegedly violating laws related to foreign contributions.The home ministry has asked RBI to take prior permission from its foreigners’ division before clearing any aid from abroad to the four NGOs. The move, sources said, follows prolonged monitoring of the activities of four American NGOs which were allegedly violating the rules governing FCRA.Accordingly, the RBI has put on hold any direct flow of funds to these NGOs and their representatives from abroad since each transaction has to be cleared on a case-by- case basis by the home ministry.The move comes within six months of international environment group Greenpeace and Climate Works Foundation subjected to a similar restriction for allegedly opposing several development projects in India. The two NGOs have denied the charges.