Amnesty India, Trust chaired by Sonia Gandhi under govt scanner for alleged FCRA violations

Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju, informed the Lok Sabha on Tuesday that a total of 42 organisations including Sonia Gandhi led – Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust and Amnesty International (India) Foundation, were under the Home Ministry’s scanner for allegedly violating foreign funding laws. The minister made this statement while replying to a written question in the lower house.

The other organisations under scrutiny include Mary Kom Regional Boxing Foundation, Nasscom and Asianet New Charitable Trust in Kerala.

As per the reports, a total of 42 such organisations are under the government’s scanner for the said violations. Out of these 42, half of the organisations have been served a questionnaire (comprising of 32 questions), for scrutinising violations under the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act (FCRA) act. If the replies of the same are found unsatisfactory, then the organisations end up getting audited.

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For the rest 21 organisations, the agencies have conducted an audit and inspection. As per the TOI report, this process has been completed for Nasscom and various Christian organisations of Arunachal and Kerala.

The most high profile organisation of them all might be the Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust which is chaired by former Congress President Sonia Gandhi.

Incidentally this isn’t the only time this trust has landed in a soup. It was reported how the trust was accused of land grabbing in Amethi. This led to Amethi district administration instructing the trust to vacate the said 1.0360-hectare land in August, 2017.

Since coming to power, the Modi government has declared a war of sorts on NGOs not following the rule book.

As reported recently, the Modi government had recently revoked the FCRA registration of prominent Indian institutions like the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Delhi University, Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and IIT-Delhi, because these institutes had not filed their returns for a period of 5 consecutive years from, 2010-11 to 2014-15.

This cancellation of registration meant that these institutes were rendered unable to receive foreign funding.

The government had also directed 1,222 NGOs to validate their bank accounts where they receive the foreign funds, failing which punitive action would be taken against them. Such NGOs included prominent ones like Sri Ramakrishna Math, Ramakrishna Mission and Coimbatore Christian Charitable Trust.

We had reported in the past how a sizeable chunk of Indian NGOs were under the scanner for financial impropriety, which gave their activities a rather shady tone.

All this crackdown had resulted in the foreign funding for Indian NGOs dropping by 66%.

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