The Union home ministry has issued a notification asking NGOs and not-for-profit organisations to provide details of the moveable and immovable assets created using grants sourced from abroad every year under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA).
Sources said the move was aimed at making the NGOs registered under the FCRA accountable. FCRA registration is mandatory for any NGO or association if it has to receive foreign funds.
“NGOs or associations will have to provide details of the movable and immovable assets acquired by them using foreign donations every financial year,” said a home ministry official.
The ministry, the official said, has also extended till March 31, 2024, the validity of the FCRA licences of those entities whose permits would expire on September 30.
There are around 16,500 NGOs and associations in India with FCRA licences.
The home ministry made the changes in the Foreign Contribution Regulation Rules, 2010, by inserting two clauses — (ba) details of movable assets created out of foreign contribution (as on March 31 of every financial year), and (bb) details of immovable assets created out of foreign contribution (as on March 31 of every financial year) — in Form FC-4. This form is filled by NGOs and associations granted FCRA licences for filing their annual returns.
Over the past eight years, the Centre has tightened the rules and procedures for NGOs to recieve and use foreign funds. The government has cancelled the FCRA licences of hundreds of NGOs on the charge of violating the law’s provisions. The crackdown has prompted several civil society groups to accuse the Centre of trying to stifle dissent.
In July, the Constitutional Conduct Group of retired senior civil servants, in an open letter to Union home minister Amit Shah, had expressed deep concern over the relentless harassment of NGOs under the FCRA and urged him to take steps to “cease needless harassment of organisations serving people of India, especially its most marginalised and disadvantaged sections”.
Sources in the ministry said the FCRA licences of over 7,000 NGOs had been cancelled in the past four years for violation of provisions.
Over the past few months, the FCRA licences of four well-known non-profits — the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), OXFAM India, Centre for Policy Research (CPR) and the Centre for Equity Studies (CES) — have been cancelled or suspended.
Additional reporting by PTI