The Union government has cancelled the Foreign Contribution Registration Act (FCRA) licence of the Sadbhavana Trust, a Delhi-based non-governmental organisation (NGO) that has been actively working to empower Dalit and Muslim women. This cancellation prohibits the trust from receiving or utilizing foreign grants. One of the cited violations of the FCRA is the trust’s failure to open an FCRA bank account in the designated State Bank of India in New Delhi, according to officials.
Sadbhavana Trust’s Background and Focus
The Sadbhavana Trust, established in 1990 by a group of social activists who had been dedicated to supporting Mehrauli labourers for many years, works in collaboration with other NGOs. The trust primarily focuses on enhancing the well-being of rural women in economically disadvantaged regions of the country, as stated on its official website.
Growing Concerns over FCRA Licence Cancellations
The cancellation of Sadbhavana Trust’s FCRA licence marks the second time in two weeks that an NGO with a focus on women has faced this consequence, following the Young Women’s Christian Association of Delhi. In addition, two other NGOs, CNI Shishu Sangopan Griha and Program for Social Action (PSA), have recently lost their licences as well.
Retired Civil Servants Urge Cooperation with NGOs
In early July, a group of 80 retired civil servants expressed their concerns to Union Home Minister Amit Shah regarding the cancellation or suspension of FCRA licences of several NGOs working for the betterment of India’s marginalized sections. In an open letter, the former bureaucrats emphasized the need for a cooperative approach rather than an adversarial one, stating that not every expression of dissent or difference of opinion should be considered a violation of the country’s integrity or against public interest.
About Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA):
The Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) is an Indian legislation that regulates the acceptance and utilization of foreign contributions or donations by individuals, associations, and organizations in India. Here are some key points about the FCRA:
Formation: The FCRA was enacted in 1976 and has since undergone several amendments to strengthen its provisions and enhance transparency in the utilization of foreign funds.
Objective: The primary objective of the FCRA is to ensure that foreign contributions and donations are utilized for legitimate purposes and do not compromise India’s sovereignty, integrity, and national interest.
Governing Authority: The FCRA is administered and enforced by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. It has set up a designated department called the Foreigners Division to oversee the implementation of the act.
Registration: Any organization or association that wishes to receive foreign contributions must be registered under the FCRA. This includes NGOs, charitable institutions, educational institutions, political parties, and other entities. Registration is valid for a period of five years and must be renewed thereafter.
Eligibility Criteria: To be eligible for FCRA registration, an organization must have a proven track record of at least three years in working in the chosen field and must demonstrate its commitment to the socio-economic, cultural, or educational development of India.
Restrictions: The FCRA imposes certain restrictions on the utilization of foreign contributions. For example, it prohibits the use of such funds for activities that could disrupt communal harmony, affect national security, or engage in political activities.