The Ministry of Home Affairs has removed some of the important data available for public viewing from the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) website. The Officials, without divulging any particular reason only offered that explanation that the data removed was considered “unnecessary”
The data removed include NGOs whose licenses have been cancelled and the annual returns of NGOs. Now, the website has general data on these pointers. One can not access the annual returns of NGOs any longer. The Ministry of Home affairs officials said that in line with the changes in FCRA rules notified by the Ministry earlier this month, data on quarterly accounts of foreign contributions received by NGOs has also been removed.
Thoug it would not impact the functionning of an NGO per se, the development is widely sees in the NGO circles as an effort to diminish transparecny. At a time when the CBI is investigating the allegations of corruption within the FCRA division, the ushering of opaqueness of it is starnge, some NGO was reported expressing requesting anonymity.
The MHA had notified a slew of changes in FCRA on July 1, claiming it “an effort to lessen the compliance burden on NGOs”, wherein Rule 13 which deals with “declaration of receipt of foreign contribution” was changed by deleteing clause (b).
The clause stated: “A person receiving foreign contribution in a quarter of the financial year shall place details of foreign contribution received on its official website or on a website as specified by the Central government within 15 days following the last day of the quarter in which it has been received clearly indicating details of donors, amount received and date of receipt.”
In recent times, the MHA has been seen as inspecting very stringently the foreign donations coming to India. It even rejected the application of renewal of FCRA license of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity. Without naming any, the MHA had put forward the justification for the decision on “adverse inputs” The License was later restored after considerable uproar casting doubts over the government’s intent. Government also declined to renew the license of Oxfam India and cancelled the license of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative.