The Union Ministry of Home Affairs has proposed amendments to the Foreign Contributions (Amendments) Act, 2010. The bill was tabled in the Lok Sabha today afternoon by the union home minister Amit Shah.
Objectives behind the proposed amendment
The government has observed that several NGOs have not utilised the funds as declared, even though the foreign funds have doubled between 2010 and 2019. The Home Ministry has therefore cancelled the licences of over 19000 organisations and initiated criminal probe against dozens of such associations for financial impropriety. The proposed amendment is set to enhance transparency, accountability, and strengthen compliance mechanism. The amendment seeks to help genuine NGOs to work for the welfare of society.
Public servants barred from receiving foreign contributions
The proposed amendment will prevent public servants, as defined under Section 21 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), from receiving foreign donations. Moreover, the NGOs registered under FRCA cannot use more than 20% of their foreign contribution to meeting administrative expenses. As per current provisions, NGOs can use up to 50% of their foreign donations for meeting administrative expenses.
Aadhar card essential for registration/ renewal of FCRA certificate
The new amendment proposes that NGOs and individuals seeking registration or renewal of their licence will now have to mandatorily provide the Aadhar number of all directors, office bearers, or primary functionaries. If the individuals happen to be a foreigner, then, they will have to provide a copy of the passport or an OCI (Overseas Citizen of India) card. The proposed amendment will allow an NGO to surrender its FRCA certificate, following an inquiry and clearance from the Centre.
Designated SBI account for receiving foreign donations
The new amendment also requires NGOs to receive foreign contributions in a designated FCRA bank account in the State Bank of India at the National Capital. The associations, registered with the government, can also open multiple accounts in other banks for transferring or utilising funds from the FCRA account in SBI. The said SBI branch will report to the Union Home Ministry directly about the source of funds, manner of reception, and the permitted limit of foreign remittance.
Home Ministry cancels FCRA licences of evangelist organisations
In a fresh crackdown on Christian evangelical organisations, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has suspended the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) licences of four Christian associations this year. As per a report in The Hindu, the four organisations whose licences were suspended are Ecreosoculis North Western Gossner Evangelical (Jharkhand), Evangelical Churches Association (Manipur), Northern Evangelical Lutheran Church (Jharkhand), and New Life Fellowship Association (Mumbai).
Union Ministry of Home Affairs has suspended the Foreign Contribution Regulations Act (FCRA) licences of 13 NGOs after allegations were raised against them for indulging in forced religious conversions of tribals to Christianity in tribal-dominated areas. The MHA had also frozen the bank accounts of these NGOs after intelligence inputs pointed out their conversion-related activities targeting the tribal areas of several states, including Jharkhand.