Govt to stop foreign funding of Teesta Setalwad’s NGOs, proceed to cancel the FCRA license

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Crackdown over embezzlement by Teesta Setalvad's NGO. Image Credit : DNA

New Delhi, 24 Mar 2016. The home ministry has decided to stop the receiving foreign donations to Teesta Setalvad and her husband Javed Anand's NGO, Sabrang Trust, and Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP). The minister official said that they have been proceeded to cancel Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) license after finding the embezzlement in Sabrang and CJP.

Previously, on 9th Sept 2015, Home ministry suspended the license citing multiple violations of FCRA rules, including misuse of funds for personal benefit of trustees. The both NGOs were served the notice for the same after an on-site inspection of records and books of accounts carried out by Home Ministry officials in April this year. "We had given them 15 days’ time to reply. Even after almost a month, no reply has come from the two NGOs. We will have no option but to cancel their FCRA registration soon," a Home Ministry official said.

As per reports, it was found under FCRA Probe that they were running a magazine "Communalism Combat" as co-editors as well as printer and publisher of their company Sabrang Communication and Publishing Pvt Ltd (SCPPL) and allegedly received foreign contribution. But under FCRA norms, no foreign contribution shall be accepted by any correspondent, columnist, cartoonist, editor, owner, printer or publisher of a registered newspaper.

CJP, which has raised the fund to contesting the cases for Muslim victims of 2002 Gujarat riots, had received a total foreign contribution of around Rs 1.18 crore from 2008-09 to 2013-14. According to the notice, more than 80 per cent or nearly Rs 95 lakh was spent for legal aid.

Notice mentioned that the NGO was registered for 'Educational and Economic' purposes, it received foreign contribution for activities such as 'Legal Aid' which falls under purpose 'Social'. Hence, it violated FCRA rules, they contended. "On review of vouchers of the Association, it was found that Sabrang Trust have made payment of Rs 12 lakh from FCRA designated account to Citi Bank and Union Bank of India on account of credit facilities taken through credit cards belonging to Setalvad and Anand.

The Home Ministry investigation also found that Anand has taken international medical policy for visiting Lahore and debited the amount in the account of Sabrang Trust. Further, even book purchases and travel expenses incurred by him to attend meetings with People's Union For Civil Liberties (PUCL) were debited in Sabrang Trust allegedly in violation of Section 8(1)(a) of FCRA.

The Home Ministry's inspection has also found that Rs 50 lakh was allegedly transferred by Sabrang Trust to SCPPL which is not registered under FCRA. FCRA rules prohibit transfer of foreign contribution to non-FCRA account unless such entity is also registered and had been granted the certificate or obtained prior permission under this Act.

The investigation also found various alleged irregularities like administrative expenditure exceeding more than 50 per cent. Besides, different figures towards expenses incurred on legal aid in the books of accounts and in the receipts of payment accounts, closing balance of the proceeding year was allegedly not reported as opening balance and even the funds received from United Nations were not found in the bank statement, the sources claimed.

Government has already asked CBI to probe the receipt of over Rs 3 crore by Sabrang Communication and Publishing Pvt Limited from foreign donors, including US-based Ford Foundation, in alleged violation of FCRA. Government had already frozen the bank account of the firm, located in Mumbai, as the Home Ministry claimed that it was not authorised to receive funds from abroad as it was not registered under FCRA.

References: DNA, Economic Times

Further, the notice regarding the embezzlement of the funds can be read below which present the ground for crackdown on pseudo activist Teesta Setalvad.

Jan-Satyagrah Desk
Jan-Satyagrah Desk represents the collective work of its editorial team by researching, observing and writing on various contemporary subjects.
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