More trouble seems to be brewing for the Kullu-based International Roerich Memorial Trust (IRMT) as foreign donations continue to pour in at the trust despite the rider imposed by the union ministry of home affairs in wake of complaints of violating the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act.
The IRMT in 2007 had sought permission for foreign donations under section 6(1A) of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 1976 (FCRA) from the union home ministry.
Information accessed by HT reveals that the union ministry rejected the request owing to incomplete documents furnished by the trust functionary. The ministry advised the chief functionary of the trust “not to accept any foreign contribution till the central government grants permission under the FCRA”.
The ministry stated that contravention of the provisions of the FCRA is a cognisable offence, punishable with fine.
According to the annual audit of the trust, the auditors in their report mentioned that the trust is subject to applicability of FCRA and is required to obtain permission of the central government under the FCRA for receiving foreign donations.
The board of trustees in its meeting stressed that for obtaining permission under the FCRA, the matter was brought to the notice of management in various meetings, but to no avail.
Documents procured by HT reveal that IRMT managers in Kullu continued to accept foreign donations in violation of the FCRA. The records of the IRMT suggest that donations were received last year too. The donations were made by foreign contributors both in cash and kind. The ‘Committee of the Friends of the IRMT’ has been formed in Russia in coordination with the curator of the IRMT to reportedly help facilitate funding.
Sources said the committee had been generously donating money and articles to the IRMT through the curator. Raising apprehensions about the donations being received at the trust, lifetime trustee Shakti Singh Chandel had written to the Himachal secretary of tourism and culture seeking an inquiry into the funds received by the IRMT.
The trustee had sought to debar the curator from directly receiving donations and instead suggested that all donations though Russia should be routed through the in charge of cultural wing of the Russian Embassy in Delhi after due clearances.
Chandel had further approached the director general of police DS Manhas, complaining about the alleged FCRA violations at IRMT, Kullu. In his complaint letter, Chandel had sought action against the curator for violating the FCRA.
But the state police have yet not acted on the compliant. “I will now directly approach the ministry of home affairs in Delhi,” said Chandel, who last year raised an alarm over the functioning of the trust, compelling the state government to order an inquiry into the functioning of the IRMT.
The late actress Devika Rani Roerich, wife of Russian painter Svetoslav Nikolaevich Roerich, set
up the trust in Kullu, Himachal Pradesh in memory of her husband, to promote art and artists. The trust included 12 members with the chief minister as its president.
The Russian ambassador and director of the International Roerich Centre, Moscow were among the members. The trust was reconstituted in 2005 and more Russian members were added to the trust.