NGOs vs. GoI: The Conflicts and Scrutinies

Home Ministry amends FCRA rules

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : FCRA

Mains level : FCRA

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has relaxed FCRA norms for farmer, student, religious and other groups who are not directly aligned to any political party to receive foreign funds if the groups are not involved in “active politics”.

Must read:

What is Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, and how does it control donations?

What is the FCRA?

  • The Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), 2010 regulates foreign donations and ensures that such contributions do not adversely affect the internal security of our country.
  • The Act, first enacted in 1976, was amended in the year 2010 when a slew of new measures was taken by the Union Home Ministry to regulate foreign donations. It was again amended in September this year.
  • It is applicable to all associations, groups and NGOs which intend to receive foreign donations. It is mandatory for all such NGOs to register themselves under the FCRA.
  • The registration is initially valid for five years and it can be renewed subsequently if they comply with all norms.

What are the new rules?

  • The new rule says- the organisations specified under clauses (v) and (vi) of sub-rule (1) shall be considered to be of political nature, if they participate in active politics or party politics, as the case may be.
  • The 2011 rules on said clauses dealt with “guidelines for the declaration of an organisation to be of a political nature, not being a political party”.
  • It said that the Central government could specify an organisation as that of political nature based on six criteria.

Defining ‘Political group’

  • Clause V of Rule 3 (FCRA 2011) qualified a political group as, “organisations of farmers, workers, students, youths based on caste, community, religion, language or otherwise, which is not directly aligned to any political party, but whose objectives or activities, include steps towards advancement of political interests of such groups.
  • The activities include: habitually engagement in or employ common methods of political action like rasta roko, jail bharo, rail roko, bandh or hartal in support of public causes.

Why such a move?

  • As per the FCRA, members of legislatures, political parties, government officials, judges and media persons are prohibited from receiving any foreign contribution.
  • The new rules make new FCRA registrations more stringent.
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