The Centre for Policy Research’s Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) licence was suspended by the Union government on Monday (CPR). This action comes five months after the Income Tax Department conducted surveys of CPR, Oxfam India, and the Independent and Public Spirited Media Foundation (IPSMF), which funds a variety of digital media entities.
Officials from the Ministry of Home Affairs confirmed that the FCRA licence of CPR had been suspended due to prima facie evidence of funding violations. “After suspending the licence, the inquiry is going on and further decisions will be taken within six months,” an official said.
After the suspension of its FCRA licence, CPR released a statement stating “we will explore all avenues of recourse available to us.”
According to the CPR website, it is “recognised as a not-for-profit society by the Government of India, and contributions to the Centre are tax exempt. CPR receives grants from the Indian Council for Social Science Research (ICSSR) and is a Department of Science and Technology (DST) recognised institution. CPR receives grants from a variety of domestic and international sources, including foundations, corporate philanthropy, governments, and multilateral agencies.”
Sources said On September 5, last year CPR’s FCRA registration was in operation when the I-T department conducted surveys. On September 30, the licence expired. Last year, the Ford Foundation, the Australian High Commission, and the Institute of Development Studies, UK were listed as donors on its website.
In September, after the I-T survey, CPR president and chief executive Yamini Aiyar stated in a statement: “We hold ourselves to the highest standards of compliance and are confident that we have done nothing wrong. We are committed to working with the authorities to address any questions they might have.” The statement also stated that as one of the 24 research institutes of the Indian Council of Social Sciences Research Network, CPR had all requisite approvals and sanctions and was authorised by the government as a recipient under the FCRA. The institute said it cooperated with the Income Tax investigation.
The government reserves the right to cancel the FCRA registration of any NGO if it finds it to be in violation of the Act. Registration can be cancelled if an inquiry finds a false statement in the application; if the NGO is found to have violated any of the terms and conditions of the certificate or renewal; if it has not been engaged in any reasonable activity in its chosen field for the benefit of society for two consecutive years; or if it has become defunct. It can also be cancelled if “in the opinion of the Central Government, it is necessary for the public interest to cancel the certificate,” the FCRA says. Registrations are also cancelled when an audit finds irregularities in the utilisation of foreign funds.
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