The Central Government has cancelled the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) licenses of several more NGOs, including Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), Apne Aap Women Worldwide India (AAWWI), Heavenly Grace Ministries and the Peoples Organisation For Empowerment Of Tribals (POET). The government has stated that these NGOs violated the provisions of the Act.
A ministry official was quoted by the Indian Express saying that the license of CHRI has been cancelled after completing the investigation. It was already under suspension for one year. The official said, “It has now been cancelled as the investigation has been completed, and the ministry is of the opinion that given the violations, the NGO cannot be allowed to continue to receive foreign funding.”
Last year Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) suspended CHRI’s license for 180 days, citing an alleged violation of FCRA laws. In the order, the Ministry stated CHRI failed to provide information about opening a bank account in February 2016. The NGO was also accused of violating other regulations under FCRA, 2010. The order read, “Further, one utilization account through which the association has been utilizing foreign contribution has not been intimated in ARs (annual reports) for FY 2016-17 and 2017-18.”
CHRI failed to provide information about projects for which it had received foreign funding in the annual report. It also refunded some foreign contributions to the donor in 2013-14 and 2014-15 but did not mention it in the reports, which was in violation of the FCRA regulations.
After the suspension of the license, CHRI approached Delhi High Court. The NGO said in its plea that the suspension would threaten its existence and cause harm to its reputation. It added the suspension would stop it from utilizing funds for planned activities and paying salaries to the employees. The NGO claimed to have provided information on funds and bank details for FY 2018-19 to the government. However, the High Court did not provide any relief to the NGO.
Along with CHRI, the FCRA licence of Apne Aap Women Worldwide (AAWW) was also cancelled by Union Home Ministry. The organisation failed to file annual financial returns mandated under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act 2010.
Odisha based NGOs, Heavenly Grace Ministries, and the Peoples Organisation For Empowerment Of Tribals (POET) also got their licenses revoked over violations of the FCRA Act. Their license was suspended for 180 days last year. A govt official has said that the these two NGOs failed the basic criteria needed to regularise their FCRA licences. “Based on the evidence received against both the NGOs, the MHA had suspended their registration in August last year, and finally cancelled their licence after a proper investigation,” the official said.
Heavenly Grace Ministries is a Christian evangelical organisation, while POET is involved in the welfare works of tribals in some districts in Odisha.
In the last several years, thousands of NGOs have lost their FCRA licence for failing to comply with the rules. In the last 5 years, from 2017 to 2021, licences of around 1900 NGOs or associations registered under ‘social’ category have been cancelled by the union government for violation of FCRA rules. On January 1 this year, licences of over 6000 NGOs were expired as they had failed to apply for renewal.