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MHA cancels foreign funding license of 3 NGOs after accidentally restoring them

In yet another embarrassing slip-up, the Union home ministry restored foreign funding licenses of four ineligible NGOs for five years through an online automatic renewal process.

india Updated: Dec 15, 2016 01:47 IST
Rajesh Ahuja
Rajesh Ahuja
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Union home ministry,MHA,Greenpeace India
Union home secretary Rajiv Mehrishi has issued guidelines to ensure that an automated process doesn’t land the ministry in yet another embarrassing slip-up. (Arvind Yadav/HT File Photo)

The government has declared the renewal order of foreign funding licenses of three ineligible NGOs - Sabrang Trust, Citizen for Peace and Justice (CJP) and Marwar Muslim Educational and Welfare Society - ‘null and void’ after the union home ministry was left red-faced following a goof up that renewed their licenses.

In a similar goof-up the ministry renewed foreign funding license of Greenpeace India also which it had cancelled in September last year. When the ministry realised its mistake, Greenpeace was told last month that its funding license was being suspended. But now the ministry is looking at a protracted legal battle over the issues as Greenpeace has obtained a stay from the Madras high court on the suspension order.

Union home secretary Rajiv Mehrishi ordered the cancellation after the ministry in an embarrassing slip-up ordered renewal of foreign funding licenses of the ineligible NGOs for five years through an online automatic renewal process earlier this year.

A Greenpeace office bearer said the NGO had got a stay order from Madras HC on December 5.

Read | Over 11,000 NGOs lose licence for foreign funding

The ministry has also asked the cyber security authorities whether its online system was hacked to get such a renewal which ‘should not have happened’ in normal course, said sources.

The foreign funding license of two among them – Greenpeace India and Sabrang Trust – had been cancelled by the ministry months back due to their alleged adverse activities. The CJP was in prior permission category where the NGOs get all foreign funds with the prior approval of ministry while Rajasthan-based Marwar Muslim Society was under the adverse notice due to its undesirable activities that would have increased sectarian tension among Muslims.

“Mehrishi has also asked for a review of online renewal of all 14,000 NGOs in the past few months to see whether there are more such cases where ineligible NGOs slipped through the online system,” a home ministry official told HT on condition of anonymity.

Greenpeace India is an environment advocacy NGO which had been in the crosshairs of the government for a long time while Sabrang and the CJP are run by Teesta Setalvad, a vocal critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Earlier, the government had renewed the foreign funding license of Zakir Naik’s NGO Islamic Research Foundation despite issuing it a show cause of notice for violation of funding norms.

The home secretary has asked the ministry’s foreigners division which deals with FCRA matters, to introduce more stringent checks avoid such incidents in future.

“Mehrishi has now issued new guidelines that all cases red-flagged by the software will go to joint secretary before change in status of the NGO concerned happens,” said the source.

First Published: Dec 14, 2016 21:47 IST