Centre alters norms on foreign hospitality nod

Updated on Nov 22, 2022 02:31 AM IST

After the fresh guidelines, Rule 7 of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Rules, 2011 says that “any person belonging to these categories who wishes to avail foreign hospitality shall apply to the central government in electronic form in Form FC-2 for prior permission to accept such foreign hospitality”.

The FCRA Act aims to prohibit acceptance and utilisation of foreign contribution or foreign hospitality for any activities detrimental to national interest.
The FCRA Act aims to prohibit acceptance and utilisation of foreign contribution or foreign hospitality for any activities detrimental to national interest.

The ministry of home affairs (MHA) on Monday revised its guidelines related to acceptance of foreign hospitality by members of legislatures, office-bearers of political parties, judges, government officials and employees of corporations who travel outside India, asking them to seek prior “online” permission from it.

After the fresh guidelines, Rule 7 of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Rules, 2011 says that “any person belonging to these categories who wishes to avail foreign hospitality shall apply to the central government in electronic form in Form FC-2 for prior permission to accept such foreign hospitality”.

All such applications, according to the rule, should be accompanied by an invitation letter from the host or the host country, and administrative clearance of the ministry or department concerned in case of visits sponsored by them at least two weeks before the proposed date of journey.

“As per rule 7 of FCRR 2011, applicants are required to submit FC-2 Form electronically in website [https://fcraonline.nic.in.xn--%2C-to0a/]https://fcraonline.nic.in,’” the guidelines issued on Monday said.

A senior official, who asked not to be named, said: “The provision for intimating the Centre ‘online’ has been there since 2015 but it was not included in the guidelines, which has been done on Monday. Prior to 2015, the entire process was offline”.

Under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), any offer made in cash or kind by a foreign source for providing a person with the cost of travel to any foreign country or territory or with free board, lodging, transport or medical treatment is considered as foreign hospitality.

The guidelines issued on Monday said that prior permission is not needed in cases where the entire expenditure on the proposed foreign visit is being met by the central government or state government or any central or state public sector unit (PSU). Permission is also not needed when the proposed visit is being undertaken in personal capacity and the entire expenditure is being borne by that person; or when foreign hospitality is being provided by an Indian national living in a foreign country. Visits where members of the Indian parliamentary delegation are visiting a foreign country under bilateral exchange and in courses approved by the government also do not need prior permission.

The FCRA Act aims to prohibit acceptance and utilisation of foreign contribution or foreign hospitality for any activities detrimental to national interest.

In November 2020, the MHA made the FCRA rules stricter, stating that organisations which may not be directly linked to a political party but engage in political action like “bandhs”, “hartals” and “rasta roko” will be considered of political nature if they participate in active politics or party politics. The organisations covered under this category include farmers’ organisations, students or workers’ organisations and caste-based outfits.

In the amended FCRA rules — the law was tweaked in September, 2020 — the government barred public servants from receiving foreign funding and made Aadhaar mandatory for every office-bearer of NGOs. The new law also says that organisations receiving foreign funds will not be able to use more than 20% of such funds for administrative purposes. This limit was 50% earlier.

The MHA informed Parliament in March this year that it has refused to renew the FCRA licences of 466 non-government organisations since 2020 for not fulfilling eligibility criteria in accordance with provisions of the law.

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