The foreign funding license of TV evangelist Zakir Naik’s NGO Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) was renewed through an automatic online system, put in place by the Union home ministry, sources told HT.
“All NGOs now apply online for renewal of their foreign funding license under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA). The IRF, too, had applied online and the renewal was granted in due course without realising that a probe has been initiated against the NGO and a questionnaire was also sent to them in this regard,” said a joint secretary level officer of the home ministry, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The renewal happened at the undersecretary level. The matter, however, never reached GK Dwivedi, the joint secretary in-charge of foreigners division in the ministry of home affairs, which deals with registration matters of NGOs.
It was Dwivedi who had put the online system in place for faster and transparent approvals of all matter pertaining to the FCRA services. But he turned out to be the biggest causality over the renewal fiasco. The government has suspended Dwivedi for his oversight in the case. His suspension has rattled the joint secretary level officers in the home ministry.
“A few of them met Union home secretary Rajiv Mehrishi on Saturday to tell him that Dwivedi has been punished too harsh. His prior work in the foreigners division should have been taken into consideration before suspending him,” said one of Dwivedi’s colleagues.
Another colleague pointed out that Dwivedi has been behind many success stories of home ministry in the recent past.
“Implementation of e-tourist visa for more than 150 countries, merger of Overseas Citizen of India and Person of Indian Origin cards, implementing SAARC business visa proposal and more than that the biggest of them — making all FCRA services like renewal of registration, filing of reports, applying for registration online — happened under Dwivedi,” said the colleague who is also a JS-level officer.
The IRF was granted renewal on August 19 and two days later it sent a reply to questionnaire assuming all is well now, its spokesman Aarif Malik has said.