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Govt cancels licences of 4,400 NGOs, top universities affected

In another round of action against erring NGOs, the government has cancelled the licence of 4,470 such entities that surprisingly included a number of top universities, Supreme Court Bar Association and Escorts Heart Institute, which bars them from receiving foreign funds.

india Updated: Jun 10, 2015 10:14 IST
Aloke Tikku
Aloke Tikku
Hindustan Times

The home ministry on Tuesday cancelled registration to receive foreign funds of over 4,400 non-governmental organisations including Delhi University, Supreme Court Bar Association and Kabir, an NGO started by deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia.

All associations were given proper notice by the Foreigners Division of the home ministry with adequate time to reply before their FCRA licences were cancelled, official sources said.

Amongst those whose registration under the foreign contribution regulation act had been cancelled last week included 373 from Delhi alone. Apart from DU, the list includes Gargi College, Lady Irwin College, Escorts Heart Institute and the Alumni association of IIT-Kharagpur.

Official sources said non-submission of annual returns was most common ground for action against the law.

In April, the government had cancelled registration of nearly 9,000 associations on the same ground.

A home ministry official explained the spate of cancellations was linked to the online system of filing returns by NGOs that enabled the government to identify entities that had slipped on this requirement.

The official said the home ministry had issued notices to thousands of NGOs during the UPA regime too but when it came down to cancelling the registration, the ministry developed a cold feet.

“Given that our own record-keeping was in a mess, there was a chance that an NGO had filed the returns and it got lost at our end,” the official said. This changed once the UPA made it mandatory for NGOs to file online returns.

Last week, the home ministry went one step forward and also made it mandatory for all NGOs to get digital signature certificates too.

The fresh round of cancellation process of the 4,470 NGOs started on May 6 and the highest number of such voluntary organisations -- as many as 971 -- were de-registered on Tuesday.

In other instances of action against NGOs, Greenpeace India activist Priya Pillai was offloaded from a London-bound flight by immigration officers in New Delhi airport in January. She was to have addressed British parliamentarians there.

The Delhi High Court later overturned the action by the Home Ministry and Pillai's "offload" passport stamp was expunged in May.

The Centre had in April blocked Greenpeace India's bank accounts, following which the environmental group had to seek interim relief from the Delhi High Court.

In April, government ordered that funds coming from the US-based Ford Foundation should not be released by any bank to any Indian NGO without mandatory permission from the Home Ministry.

A crisis response campaigner with Greenpeace International, Aaron Gray-Block, was denied entry into India on Saturday as his name figured in a Home Ministry "black list".

(With PTI inputs)

First Published: Jun 09, 2015 21:40 IST