The Union home ministry on Friday asked the CBI to conduct a probe into funding received by activist Teesta Setalvad’s Sabrang Communication and Publishing Private Limited (SCPPL).
A bank account of the firm located in Juhu, Mumbai, has also been frozen on the instructions of the home ministry.
In a letter to CBI’s joint director (economic offences) Rajeev Sharma, the home ministry said SCPPL was a private limited company also engaged in media and publication. Two of its directors, Setalvad and her husband Javed Anand, write columns and articles regularly.
“Such entities are prohibited from receiving foreign contribution. The company has received foreign contribution of US$ 2, 90,000 and Rs 1.30 crore in violation of sections 4(1)(b) and 3(1)(b) of the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act (FCRA),” said the letter. All entities need prior permission of the home ministry under the FCRA to receive foreign contributions. “Our inspection shows SCPPL got US$ 2, 90,000 from Ford Foundation and Rs 1.30 crore from Teesta’s NGOs Sabrang Trust and Citizens for Justice and Peace,” said a senior home ministry official.
The home ministry had conducted an inspection of SCPPL between June 8 and 10 for the period from 2006-07 to 2014-15.
It found that SCPPL violated FCRA provisions on several counts. It did not maintain exclusive books of accounts in respect of foreign funding and mixed foreign and domestic contributions.
“It is an attack on freedom of expression and shows dictatorial and autocratic attitude of the Narendra Modi government. What was started by the Gujarat police against us is continuing from the home ministry. We will abide by the law and cooperate with the probe,” Setalvad said.