CBI arrests 14 for FCRA bribery case
The CBI has arrested 14 people, including six public servants, and recovered Rs 3.21 crore during searches at 40 locations across the country for allegedly taking bribes to facilitate foreign donations in violation of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act.
CBI sources said an FIR was registered against 36 people, including five officials of the Union home ministry’s FCRA division and NGO representatives, for allegedly conspiring to illegally facilitate registration and renewal of FCRA licences.
Union home ministry’s FCRA division is responsible for granting permission to NGOs to receive funds from abroad. It is also responsible for cancelling the registration in case the NGOs are found violating the law.
“An FIR has been registered against government officials for obtaining bribes from NGOs to facilitate registration and renewal of registration under FCRA. Certain NGOs are found to have backdoor FCRA registration/renewal by such illegal means with an aim to continue receiving donations despite not fulfilling the prescribed norms,” a CBI official said.
FCRA registration is mandatory for any NGO or association to receive foreign funds.
According to the official, a probe has revealed that some home ministry officials allegedly indulged in corrupt and illegal activities by conspiring with the representatives of some NGOs and FCRA officials.
On Tuesday, the CBI conducted searches at 40 locations across Delhi, Chennai, Rajasthan, Hyderabad and Coimbatore and apprehended 14 people, including home ministry officials attached with the FCRA division, representatives of NGOs and middlemen.
Civil rights activists have been voicing concern over the Narendra Modi government’s continued tightening of grip on sources of foreign funding as it cancelled FCRA licences of hundreds of NGOs receiving foreign donations on charges of violating various provisions of the law. They have alleged that the government has been suppressing those not considered supportive of the current dispensation.