In order to tighten the flow of foreign funds to controversial TV evangelist Zakir Naik’s NGO Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), the government has decided to vet all donations it gets from abroad before they are deposited to its accounts.
Under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), the law that governs foreign funding of NGOs, the government can put them in prior permission (PP) category wherein the home ministry vets all funding. Whenever any foreign donation is received by the NGO under the PP category, banks are asked to seek clearance from the ministry before transferring it into the NGO’s account.
This is first step to choke foreign funding of NGOs under the government scanner for violation of FCRA norms.
“The process to move the IRF to the PP category is on,” said a home ministry official on the condition of anonymity.
Sources said this process was initiated by then joint secretary in-charge of the foreigners division, GK Dwivedi, who was later suspended by the government when it came to light that despite an inquiry pending against IRF, its foreign funding licence was renewed by the home ministry.
“The process was initiated following an inspection of accounts of the NGO in late 2014. The ministry found certain irregularities in the books of the IRF. There were a few unexplained donations and non-reporting of funds,” said the official.
The official added that around Rs 1.79 crore was not reported and there was also an unexplained fixed deposit of around Rs 10 crore in which some foreign funding was parked.
Naik and his NGOs came back on the radar of Indian law enforcement agencies after some of the gunmen who attacked a bakery in Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka, were found to be influenced by his TV sermons. Following the revelation, the government prepared a multi-pronged plan for a clampdown on Naik’s activities.