Last week, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) registered a case of alleged Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) violation against human rights activist Harsh Mander and his NGO Centre for Equity Studies (CES). FIRs were registered based on a complaint from the Union Home Ministry. The agency allegedly found that the NGO transferred some amount to certain individuals from the FCRA account, apart from salary/wages/remuneration, which is a violation of the Act.

The action against CES is the latest incident in a series of measures against civil society and NGOs. Last month, FCRA registrations of Delhi-based Centre for Policy Research (CPR) and World Vision India were cancelled. In 2023, the Home Ministry had recommended a CBI investigation into Oxfam India for allegedly violating FCRA provisions. CBI also conducted searches and registered a case against news portal NewsClick for violating FCRA in December 2023.

The government uses FCRA to regulate the foreign funds received by NGOs “to prevent any possible diversion for activities detrimental to national interest.” Organisations have to compulsorily register under the Act if they wish to receive foreign funding. Over 20,000 FCRA licences have been cancelled till February 4.

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