Saturday, July 23, 2016

Online Facility for Lokpal Forms

In a surprisingly swift move, FCRA Department has set up an online facility for submission of Lokpal declarations. The link to the portal is here:https://fcraonline.nic.in/fc_lokpal_initial.aspx

Steps for filing the declaration online are:

1. Prepare, print and sign the declaration.

2. Scan the signed declaration as PDF, making sure file size doesn't exceed 10MB (tip: use smallpdf.com to make the file smaller for quicker upload).

3. Punch in the NGO's FCRA number at the link given above. This opens up a small utility where you can punch in the Member's/ Trustee's name and designation.

4. Upload the PDF file you have prepared.

5. FCRA Department is asking for FY 15-16 return only

This appears to be an initial effort, with some flaws:

1. There is no requirement that the return must be filed online.

2. There is no order specifying FCRA Department as the 'Competent Authority' for this.

3. There is no security or password for individuals logging in as NGO officers.

4. The filing is being linked to particular NGOs. What happens to an individual who is a trustee in multiple NGOs? Should they log in separately for each NGO?

Online filing facility for lokpal compliances in FCRA website

This is to inform you that just today, the FCRA Department has provided the link foronline submission of annual returns under Lokpal. Click here to go to the link. Or at: https://fcraonline.nic.in/fc_lokpal_initial.aspx

Instructions for filling the forms are given below: (also given in the FCRA website)

1. An applicant should download the returns form.

Applicant Means:- 'any person who is or has been a director, manager, secretary or other officer of every other society or association of persons or trust (whether registered under any law for the time being in force or not), in receipt of any of any donation from any foreign source under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 (42 of 2010) in excess of Rs. 10 lakh rupees in a year. '

2. An applicant required to fill the form with blue or black ball point pen with clarity.

3. An applicant required to scan the filled form in pdf format. (Instructions for scanning of documents is provided in the attachment)

4. The Size of Pdf should not exceed more than 10 MB.

As per the aforesaid direction of FCRA dept., returns have to be filed online on or before 31st July, 2016 without fail to avoid any action as prescribed by the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013.

NGOs, civil society organisations throttled in India: international activists

Durban: The Indian government on Thursday came under heavy criticism from health activists, international organisations and civil society groups at the ongoing International AIDS conference in Durban for launching veiled attacks on NGOs and giving into the pressure of the west to impose regulations on the generic drug industry.

Leading international civil society groups such as South Africa's Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), Section 27 and US-based Health Gap condemned the BJP government for suspending the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) registration of NGO Lawyers Collective's (LC) for six months in June for alleged irregularities in spending of funds. The protest in an international forum comes within days of the government stating in a written reply to the Lok Sabha that 14,222 non-profit organisations were barred from receiving foreign funds in the past four years.

Lawyer's Collective in the past has represented people living with HIV in a public interest litigation and got them access to free and quality antiretroviral therapy (ART) medication. They have also won cases against pharmaceutical giants which worked in favour of the generic drug industry and facilitated the availability of affordable HIV drugs for several lower and middle-income nations. According to reports, their registration was cancelled on the grounds of inappropriate use of the money, unauthorised transfer from one account to another, organising rallies of political hue, etc.

Mark Heywood of Section 27 said that the clamp down on non-profits, who have fought for human and patient rights, is a critical threat to the global AIDS response as India's generic drug market manufactures 80% of the ART drugs used around the world. "The affordable HIV drugs available used in large part of the world, including throughout Africa, is because of the work of LC to maintain space for generic medicines. If you take down the NGO, you take away the safeguards of the industry," he said.

Steven Lewis, former UN envoy for HIV/AIDS in South Africa said that sabotaging non-profits can deliver a fatal blow to global public health. "Lawyers's Collective is being targeted because the government has no tolerance for civic society. The government is irritated with the LC for taking a moral position on HIV, LGBT rights, domestic violence and human rights," he said.

Around 100 of these protesters belonging to several African nations, India and Pakistan marched to the Indian embassy in Durban on Thursday to submit a memorandum demanding an end to "witch-hunting" of NGOs. The memorandum also stated that the Indian government should ensure that the Indian generic companies are not taken over by the multinational pharmaceutical. While the security did not allow the protesters inside the embassy premises, an official received it on behalf of the Consul General.

A member of one of the Indian NGOs, who did not wish to be identified, said that there is an "environment of fear". "NGOs, particularly those working in the HIV space, are a lot dependant on the government funding. The situation has become worse with, on one hand, the global funds drying up, and on another, the government creating hurdles on the way of getting foreign money. The FCRA permissions for several non-profits are pending currently," the member said.

A June 20 notification by the government to bring non-governmental agencies under the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act of 2013 is also seen as a reason for the growing distance between the government and the NGOs. It states that trustees or heads of any registered society, NGO getting government grants of Rs 10 million or above annually, or receiving international funds to the tune of Rs one million or more, will have to declare their assets.

"In the name of transparency, the government is trying to scare people. There are many agencies who work as non-financial partners with NGOs. Why should they be subjected to such scrutiny? There is an overwhelming concern that the democratic space in the country is shrinking," said Meena Seshu, founder of SANGRAM, a voluntary organisation that works with sex workers on HIV/AIDS-related issues. The NGO member said the government has to initiate dialogue with the civil society so that the trust built over years, which also forms the basis for several health programmes, doesn't collapse.

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/NGOs-civil-society-organisations-throttled-in-India-international-activists/articleshow/53336277.cms



Friday, July 22, 2016

NGOs under Lokpal

Another compliance requirement to be fulfilled by NGO and NPOs. This time, its Lokpal and Lokayukt Act (LLA, 2013). Yes NGOs are under the scanner of Lokpal now. Recently notified by the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions nos 1541, 1542 and 1543 (dated 20.06.2016) specify the procedure and clarity regarding Lokpal.

(See Full Notification here)

Let us discuss this in FAQs.

Which NGOs/NPOs are covered?

As per notification three types of trust / society and associations (NGOs) are covered.

1. NGOs owned by government

2. NGOs, which has received grant or Rs. 1 crore and above from Government

3. NGOs, which has received FC funds of Rs. 10 lacs and above

What type of compliance?

“Public Servant” of above NGOs has to submit return declaring the Assets and Liabilities, as per sec44 of LLA, 2013.

Who is “Public Servant”?

Definition of “Public Servant” is not clearly given in the LLA, 2013. However all the Board Members are certainly covered.

Who is liable?

“Public Servant” in individual capacity is liable. Thus NGO per se is not liable, but all the trustees / board members are liable to comply with the provisions of LLA, 2013.

How to declare Assets and Liabilities?

There are 4 forms specify –

1. Form I: Name of spouse, dependent children, public position held by them,

2. Form II: Details of movable property such as cash, bank balances, investments, provident fund, loans and advances, vehicles, jewellery, gold, etc.

3. Form III: Details of immovable property such as land, house, shops etc.

4. Form IV: Details of loans taken, along with details

Download forms in excel from below link –


http://www.kcjmngo.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/NGO-Lokpal-Forms.xlsx?dd9664

Whose Assets and Liabilities?

1. Self

2. Spouse

3. Dependent Children


Whom to Submit?

NGOs owned by government – Respective Department

· NGOs, which has received grant or Rs. 1 crore and above from Government – Department from which highest grant received

· NGOs, which has received FC funds of Rs. 10 lacs and above – FCRA Department, Home Ministry.

How to send declaration?

For now, only by registered post.

For How many years and what is the last date?

As per act, till the grant is not utilized, every year such return should be submitted. So, currently, return for 2015-16 is to be submitted before 31.07.2016.

There after for every year, last date is 31st July.

Any person become public servant in between the year, has to file return within 30 days form the date he is appointed.

Penalty?

If declaration is not submitted or the assets are not declared, it is presumed that all the assets are acquired through corrupt means and also it will be treated as offense and Lokpal can initiate the inquiry against the “Public Servant”.



FCRA Bank Account Details

The FCRA Department will shortly be connected to the PFMS. This will allow the Department to monitor bank account transactions of all FCRA NGOs online, in real-time.

In preparation for this momentous transition, FCRA Department has requested all NGOs to check whether the details of their designated and utilisation bank accounts is correct. If not, they should file an update by using form FC-6. This should be done latest by 31-Aug-2016.

If your bank account details are already updated, please do not file form FC-6 now.

Centre going easy? After cancelling license of 10,000 NGOs last year, only 1 banned this year

"The action needed was taken last year and it sent a strong message bringing the erring NGOs back on track," said a home ministry official, Gujarat activist Teesta Setlavad's NGO Sabrang Trust was the lone organisation whose FCRA registration was cancelled and foreign funding banned this year.

BRIEFCASE

· 1 The government this year has cancelled registration of only 1 NGO, unlike last year.

· 2  Teesta's NGO Sabrang Trust's registration has been cancelled this year.

· 3 The government said, they have not softened their stance on foreign funding to NGOs.

In a massive crackdown on foreign-funded NGOs last year, the Home Ministry cancelled over 10,000 registrations, but this year there has been just one such organisation in the firing line.

The Narendra Modi government came under severe criticism for cracking the whip on NGOs soon after coming to power and the United Nations human rights experts also urged India to repeal the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) that governs foreign funding of NGOs.

This was also communicated to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). However, MHA officials say this year's action against just one NGO compared to 10,020 last year doesn't imply that the government has softened its stand after pressure was exerted from activists.

"The action needed was taken last year and it sent a strong message bringing the erring NGOs back on track," said a home ministry official, Gujarat activist Teesta Setlavad's NGO Sabrang Trust was the lone organisation whose FCRA registration was cancelled and foreign funding banned this year.

CRACKDOWN ON TEESTA'S NGO

Teesta was one of the activists who took up the cause of victims of Gujarat riots of 2002 and even lashed out at Narendra Modi who was the CM of the state then. Cancelling the registration, the government argued that the foreign funds received by the NGO under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) licence had not been used for the purposes meant. The order said during inspection, MHA found that foreign contribution has been frequently used for items of personal expenses.

RECAP

The action against foreign funded NGOs in 2015 started soon after Modi took charge and the number of FCRA cancellations of over 10,000 NGOs was far more than previous years. According to MHA data in 2014, there were 59 cancellations and in 2013, there were only four. There were 4,138 NGOs that lost their foreign aid in 2012.

MONEY LAUNDERING IN DONATIONS TO NGOs

Replying to a parliament question on the need to repeal FCRA as the law was obstructing civil society's access to foreign funding MHA stated, "The government is also aware about the one sided and biased views expressed by certain persons / associations regarding the cancellation of FCRA Registration. MHA has clarified the position against these one sided views earlier."

Other than cracking the whip on dubious NGOs, intelligence agencies are now focussing to crack down on the donors who are using these organisations for money laundering. Several donors have been blacklisted on suspicion of being part of a money laundering syndicate.

"There is a strong suspicion that some of these donors are funding these organisations to push their agenda and derail India's economic growth," said a home ministry official. While traditional tax havens like Switzerland, Mauritius and the UAE and Thailand are among the top donor countries, frequent donations from smaller countries North Korea, Syria, Cuba, Tonga, Kyrgyzstan, Burkino Faso, Swaziland, Luxembourg and Malta have raised suspicions of large scale money laundering.

POSSIBLE TERROR FUNDING IN DONATIONS?

It's not just money laundering but MHA in its report on FCRA had also red-flagged the issue of terror funding through these dubious foreign donors.

Source: http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/ngo-teesta-setalvad-sabrang-trust-modi-government-fcra-foreign-contribution-regulation-act-mha-ministry-of-home-affairs-10-000-ngos-only-1-banned-this-year/1/720051.html

Health Ministry struggles to afford overseas experts after Centre's foreign NGO crackdown

According to the health ministry, as many as 90 of its consultants will have to leave by the end of June.

The Union Health Ministry is digging into its pockets to retain a slew of experts fearing an exodus after the Centre recently dismissed dozens of foreign-funded consultants, seen as a bid to clamp down on the influence of international agencies and NGOs on public policy.

"With the order, the health ministry remains the worst hit as the public health sector has perhaps the highest number of such experts in various fields, ranging from tuberculosis, family planning to AIDS," said a senior health ministry official.

While many consultants have already been asked to leave after completing three years, others will soon get their marching orders.

"The concern is serious as work will get affected if these experienced people leave. We are considering the possibility of creating a separate fund for this so that we can pay the salaries of these experts in the future," the official said.

"We have been asked to make a list of those who are about to complete three years. We will talk to authorities to find a way to retain these experts at our own expense."

More than 363 consultants work in the health ministry, but get salaries from external agencies such as the UK's Department for International Development (DFID), US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) along with aid groups like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Health-oriented international agencies such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF also have consultants in the ministry.

"With several health plans such as AIDS control programmes under the National AIDS Control Organization (NACO), Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP), malaria, immunisation, family planning and mother and child health programmes, there is a dire need of health experts for guidance," said a senior health official.

"Not many posts have been sanctioned by the Centre so we are dependent on foreign agencies to fund these experts." Over half of these consultants have already served the government for more than three years, said officials.

"For those who have joined recently, we can extend their services annually, up to three years, after seeking permission from the finance ministry by giving them a valid reason. But these experts will start looking for other avenues if they don't see any financial gains in future. The final approval for the existing consultants will come after the approval of the new screening committee," an official said.

According to the health ministry, as many as 90 of its consultants will have to leave by the end of June. Around 120 work with NACO. "We have already started searching for new experts in the respective fields and their salaries will be taken care of by the health ministry," said the official. "We will manage some funds and recruit experienced people at our own level."

Source: http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/health-gasps-as-union-health-ministry-struggles-to-keep-foreign-funded-consultants/1/647689.html

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Important Notice from FCRA Dept on filing of annual returns under LLA 2013

The FCRA Department has issued an order No.II/21022/58(0389)/2016/FCRA (MU)/S-3 dated 20thJuly, 2016 stating that-

“Any person who is or has been a Director, Manager, Secretary or other officer of every other society or association of persons or trust (whether registered under any law for the time being in force or not) in receipt of any donation from any foreign source under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 in excess of ten lakh rupees in a year” are required to furnish an annual return of assets and liabilities every year on or before 31st July. For the FY 2015-16, the returns have to be filed on or before 31.07.2016 without fail to avoid any action as prescribed by the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013.

The return has to be submitted in hard copy to –

The Joint Secretary
Ministry of Home Affairs
(Foreigners Division) FCRA Wing,
NDCC-II Building, JAI SINGH ROAD,
Opposite Parliament Street, Near Jantar Mantar
New Delhi-110001

Cancellation of FCRA licence of NGOs

Government has cancelled the registration under Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 2010 (FCRA) of NGOs including Teesta Setalvad’s NGO Sabrang Trust for violation of provisions of FCRA, 2010. Details of cancelled FCRA registration of NGOs is as under:

No. of FCRA registration cancelled

Year

2012 - 4138

2013 - 4

2014 - 59

2015 - 10020

2016 (till date) - 1

The names of associations against whom action of cancellation has been taken are available on the websitewww.fcraonline.nic.in of the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Ministry of External Affairs has communicated a write up containing certain views of UN Human Rightsexperts on FCRA provisions. The Government is also aware about the one sided and biased views expressed by certain persons/associations regarding the cancellation of FCRA Registration. Ministry of Home Affairs has clarified the position against these one sided views earlier. The Ministry of Home Affairs is mandated to administer the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 (FCRA 2010), for regulating the receipt and utilization of foreign contribution by the associations. As and when reports are received against any association for alleged violation of the Act, action is initiated against the alleged violators after following due process as prescribed in the FCRA, 2010 and FCRR, 2011. Reasonable opportunities like furnishing of information to a standard questionnaire, inspection ofrecords, issuing a show-cause notice, personal appearances, if required, are given to the associationsbefore taking a final decision regarding cancellation of FCRA registration. The cancellation order etc. are also subject to judicial scrutiny. Further for maintaining transparency, all orders,Notifications etc., are placed on websitewww.fcraonline.nic.in of the Ministry of Home Affairs.

This was stated by the Minister of State for Home Affairs, Shri Kiren Rijiju in a written reply to question by Shri D. Raja in the Rajya Sabha today

Source: http://taxheal.com/cancellation-of-fcra-licence-of-ngos.html

2,351 firms fail to respect CSR mandate

NEW DELHI: As many as 2,351 companies have no existence in corporate social responsibility endeavors, according to numbers released by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs to the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.

While a total of 776 firms have engaged NGOs for implementing corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities, nearly 2400 companies chose not to spend a single penny on such tasks, Corporate Affairs Minister, Arun Jaitley said in a written reply to Rajya Sabha.

Following a change in company law in April 2014, the new Companies Act mandates that every company with a annual revenue of more than Rs 100 crore must give away two per cent of their 3-year average annual net profit for CSR activities.An evaluation of the CSR expenditure of 4,257 companies indicates that these firms have spent about 72 per cent of the mandated amount on CSR activities, added Jaitley. Of which, 621 firms have spent more than prescribed amount, while 400 companies spent ‘exactly’ the same amount as prescribed under the rules.

Further, 261 firms have spent 66-99 per cent of the their mandated CSR fund, while 624 companies spent less than 66 per cent of the prescribed amount. Jailtey noted that organising private sports tournaments and one-off activities are not permissible under, adding that a total of 967 complaints are pending before the designated courts so far.

Source: http://www.newindianexpress.com/business/news/2351-firms-fail-to-respect-CSR-mandate/2016/07/20/article3537492.ece



10,020 FCRA registrations cancelled last year : govt

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had cancelled Foreign Contributions Regulation Act (FCRA) registration of 10,020 associations last year, whereas in 2014, only 59 such registrations were scrapped, the Lok Sabha was informed today.

In a written reply, Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju said the government has taken action only in cases where violations of FCRA have been reported. The Minister was responding to a query whether allegations of pick and choose policy in cancellation of FCRA registration have been reported and sought reaction of the government if so. Asked if United Nations Human Rights experts have expressed displeasure over the cancellation of FCRA registrations, Mr Rijiju said Ministry of External Affairs has communicated a write up containing certain views of the UN Human Rights experts on FCRA provisions. "The government is also aware about the one sided and biased views expressed by certain persons/associations regarding the cancellation of FCRA registration. MHA has clarified the position against these one-sided views earlier,'' the Minister said. Mr Rijiju said the MHA is mandated to regulate the receipt and utilization of foreign contributions by the association and action was taken against violators only after following due process as prescribed in the FCRA Act. Reasonable opportunities like furnishing of information to a standard questionnaire, inspection of records, issuing a show cause notice, personal appearances were given to violators before taking final decision regarding cancellation of FCRA registration, he added. "The cancellation orders are also subject to judicial scrutiny. Further, for maintaining transparency, all orders are placed on Ministry's website," he concluded.UNI RG SB/RSA 1641

Source: http://news.webindia123.com/news/Articles/India/20160719/2902574.html

Foreign aid ban on 10,000 NGOs last year: Rijiju

NEW DELHI: As many as 14,222 NGOs were barred from receiving foreign funds in the past four and a half years for having violated provisions of the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act, the government has informed the Lok Sabha.

Of these, 10,020 NGOs were barred last year. A total of 4,138, four and 59 NGOs were restrained from receiving foreign contributions in 2012, 2013 and 2014, respectively, minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju said in a written reply to the Lok Sabha on Tuesday. Only one NGO has been barred so far this year from recei ving overseas funds, he said.

Rijiju said, "The ministry of external affairs has communicated a write-up containing certain views of the United Nations Human Rights ex perts on provisions of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), which regulates foreign grants. The government is also aware about the one-sided and biased views expressed by certain persons or associations regarding the cancellation of FCRA registration."

Rijiju said the home minister has clarified the position against these one-sided views earlier. The home ministry is mandated to regulate the receipt and utilisation of foreign contribution by the associations. As and when reports are received against any association for alleged violation of the Act, action is initiated against the alleged violators after following due process as prescribed in the FCRA, 2010 and Foreign Contribution Regulation Rules (FCRR), 2011.

"Reasonable opportunities like furnishing of information to a standard questionnaire, inspection of records, issuing a show-cause notice, personal appearances, if required, are given to the associations before taking a final decision regarding cancellation of FCRA registration. The cancellation order etc. are also subject to judicial scrutiny," the minister said.

Further, for maintaining transparency, all orders, notifications etc, are placed on website http:www.fcraonline.nic.in of the home ministry, Rijiju said. Government has cancelled the FCRA registration of NGOs based on the violation of provisions of FCRA 2010, Rijiju added.

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Foreign-aid-ban-on-10000-NGOs-last-year-Rijiju/articleshow/53294528.cms

Ecommunique on recent amendment to the Lokpal & Lokayukta Act 2013

This is in continuation to our previous blog post on the recent amendment to the Lokpal & Lokayukta Act, 2013 which brings certain categories of NGOs in its ambit. We had circulated the same last evening but many of you wrote to us that you could not access it.

Therefore find attached herewith a detailed analysis in form of “Standards and Norms on the applicability of Lokpal to NGOs”.

The prescribed forms for compliance are also available on our website for download. You can alsoclick here to download the forms.

This is also available on our blog post Click here to view the blog

CSR: 2,351 cos spend nil, 776 firms engage NGOs

New Delhi, Jul 19 () As many as 2,351 companies have not spent a single penny on corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities, while a total of 776 firms have engaged NGOs for implementing such tasks, Parliament was informed today.

The new Companies Act mandates every company with a networth of Rs 100 crore to set aside minimum 2 per cent of their 3-year average annual net profit for CSR activities.

An assessment of CSR expenditure of 4,257 companies indicates that these firms have spent about 72 per cent of the mandated amount on CSR activities, Corporate Affairs Minister Arun Jaitley said in a written reply to Rajya Sabha.

Of these, 621 firms have spent more than prescribed amount, while 400 companies spent 'exactly' the same amount as prescribed under the rules.

Further, 261 firms have spent 66-99 per cent of the their mandated CSR fund, while 624 companies spent less than 66 per cent of the prescribed amount.

As many as 2,351 companies have not spent any amount on CSR activities.

Out of the total 4,257 firms, 776 have engaged NGOs for implementing CSR, he said.

In a separate reply Jaitley said, "organising private sports tournaments and one-off activities are not permissible under CSR of companies under the Companies Act 2013 and the rules thereunder."

Separately, the minister said a total of 967 complaints are pending before the designated courts, filed by Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) as on date.

Further, SFIO has received 1,375 complaints in 2015 and 797 in 2014.

SFIO is the investigation arm of the Corporate Affairs Ministry. SP ANU

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/CSR-2351-cos-spend-nil-776-firms-engage-NGOs/articleshow/53282922.cms

Over 14,000 NGOs barred from receiving foreign funds: Govt

Home Affairs MInister Kiren Rijiju, in a written reply to the Lok Sabha, gave data on the number of NGOs barred from receiving foreign funds due to violation of the Foreign Contribution Regulaltion Act (FCRA), 2010.

As many as 14,222 NGOs were barred from receiving foreign funds in the past four years for violating norms, the government said on Tuesday.

Of these, the largest number of 10,020 Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) were barred last year. A total of 4138, 4 and 59 NGOs were restrained from receiving foreign contributions in 2012, 2013 and 2014 respectively, Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju said in a written reply to the Lok Sabha.

Only one NGO has been barred so far this year from receiving overseas funds, he said.

Rijiju said, “the Ministry of External Affairs has communicated a write up containing certain views of United Nations Human Rights experts on provisions of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), which regulates foreign grant.

“The government is also aware about the one sided and biased views expressed by certain persons or associations regarding the cancellation of FCRA registration.”

Rijiju said the Home Ministry has clarified the position against these one sided views earlier.

The Ministry of Home Affairs is mandated to administer the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010, for regulating the receipt and utilisation of foreign contribution by the associations.

“As and when reports are received against any association for alleged violation of the Act, action is initiated against the alleged violators after following due process as prescribed in the FCRA, 2010 and Foreign Contribution Regulation Rules (FCRR), 2011.

“Reasonable opportunities like furnishing of information to a standard questionnaire, inspection of records, issuing a show-cause notice, personal appearances, if required, are given to the associations before taking a final decision regarding cancellation of FCRA registration. The cancellation order etc. are also subject to judicial scrutiny,” the Minister said.

Further, for maintaining transparency, all orders, notifications etc.,are placed on website http://www.fcraonline.nic.in of the Ministry of Home Affairs, he said.

Government has cancelled the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) registration of NGOs based on the violation of provisions of FCRA 2010, Rijiju added.

Source: http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/over-14000-ngos-barred-from-receiving-foreign-funds-govt-2924258/

NGOs under Lokpal: Number of 'public servants' set to double next month?

AT A GLANCE

· -- As per rules notified recently by the DoPT, NGOs receiving more than Rs 1 crore as govt grant and donations above Rs 10 lakh from abroad will be under the ambit of the Lokpal.

· -- NGOs and their top executives will have to file details of income and assets before the proposed anti-corruption body.

· -- Office bearers of such NGOs will be treated as "public servants" and charged under the anti-corruption law in case of financial irregularities.

With the notification issued to implement the Lokpal Act (2013) from July 31, 2016, the number of public servants in India is set to double to nearly 40 million. The current estimates of the total number of public servants in government agencies is about 20 million (as estimated by the 7th Pay Commission). However, all directors, managers and trustees of all non-profit organisations (NPOs) have been mentioned in the category of persons to be included as public servants.

onsidering that there are around 2.2 million NPOs in India, with at least one director and 7 trustees, India can proudly proclaim an additional 20 million public servants from next month.

A discussion on this absurd provision in the Lokpal Act (2013) was convened in Delhi on July 14. More than 300 NPPOs from around the country were represented there. Similar consultations were held in Mumbai, Pune, Ahmedabad, and many other locations.

There is increasing concern in Indian society today with the lack of transparency and accountability of all institutions, be they government, business or non-profit. Each sector has a set of legal frameworks and mechanisms for ensuring transparency and accountability.

In the private business, legal framework varies with size of the organisation and nature of its registration. Those registered as Companies are governed by the Companies Act 2013. Those registered as Shops and small business follow rules for transparency and accountability different from those registered as companies.

Likewise, non-profit organisations vary in size, nature of operations and forms of registration. All schools and colleges are non-profits in India; so are all health clinics and hospitals. They are governed differently from millions of Self-Help Groups (SHGs) which are also mostly registered as non-profits. Research and teaching institutions have different legal frameworks than those providing basic services like water, sanitation, housing, etc.

In the government too, Central, state and local government employees are governed by Prevention of Corruption Acts and vigilance departments operate everywhere. The Right To Information Act has been implemented to provide transparency in the wake of Official Secrets Act that operated during and from the colonial era.

Therefore, it appears that the purpose of this legislation is more than …“to enquire into allegations of corruption against certain public functionaries…”.

It now expands the meaning of public servants to double the size of actual public functionaries, thereby demonstrating, vicariously, rapid growth in ‘employment’. It lumps all non-profit organisations (NPOs) into a single category, so that primary schools and sports clubs and hospitals are treated alike in terms of their transparency and accountability mechanisms.

It all creates the possibility that when such an institution is constituted (how to constitute it is still being debated in Parliament) and established, a huge new bureaucracy will be established to now cover double the original universe of public servants!

And who — pray who? — would ensure transparency and accountability of Lokpal institutions, and .."inquire into allegations of corruption against (these) certain public functionaries..”.

In the meanwhile, citizens all over the country are daily paying bribes to various ‘public functionaries’ to get admission to health centres, secure ration, get payments due under MNREGA or water connections to their homes.

Source: http://www.dnaindia.com/india/column-ngos-under-lokpal-number-of-public-servants-set-to-double-next-month-2235553

APPLICABILITY OF LOKPAL AND LOKAYUKTAS ACT, 2013 TO NGOS- A DETAILED ANALYSIS

The Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions has issued three new notifications Nos. 1541, 1542, 1543 Dtd. 20.06.2016. By virtue of these notifications procedural guidelines with regard to the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act 2013 (LLA, 2013) have been provided. The guidelines include the functionaries and office bearers of NPOs for disclosure of information. All ‘Public Servants’ have to file declaration of assets and liabilities under Section 44 of LLA 2013 for 3 years as on (01.08.2014, 31.03.2015 & 31.03.2016). Under Section 45 of LLA 2013, if a Public Servant wilfully fails to declare assets and liabilities or provides misleading information then such assets shall, unless otherwise proved, be presumed to belong to the public servant and shall be presumed to be assets acquired by corrupt means.

Please find a detailed analysis on the applicability of the LLA, 2013 and it implications on NGOs here (click here)

- See more at: http://www.fmsfindia.org.in/blog/lokpal-and-lokayuktas-act/application-of-lokpal-and-lokayuktas-act-2013-to-ngos-a-detailed-analysis/#sthash.WB5hZypv.dpuf

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Donors on FCRA Watchlist

Following donors are currently on FCRA Watchlist. This list has been compiled from newspaper reports:

1. 350.Org

2. Avaaz, USA

3. Bertha Foundation

4. BIC, USA

5. Caritas Internationalis

6. Catholic Organisation for Relief and Development Aids (CORDAID)

7. Climate Work Foundation (CWF), USA

8. Compassion International, USA

9. Dan Church Aid (DCA)

10. Danish Institute of Human Rights (DIHR)

11. Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA)

12. Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, South Korea

13. Greenpeace International

14. HIVOS Netherlands

15. ICCO Stretegische Samenwerking (ICCO), Netherlands

16. Inter Church Peace Council-Pax Christi (IKV-PC), Netherlands

17. Mercy Corps, USA

18. National Endowment for Democracy (NED)

19. Open Society Foundations (OSF)

20. Sierra Club USA

21. World Movement for Democracy (WMD)

Of these 21, eight had been placed on the list by UPA. The balance 13 have been added by NDA government.

Banks are under RBI instructions to clear any donations or other such remittances from these donors with FCRA Department, before crediting them to NGO's account. Some banks follow these instructions rigorously - others don't. Therefore, some remittances slip through, while others are delayed till FCRA Department clears these.

The Seven Deadly Sins under FCRA

FCRA Department has recently suspended the FCRA registration of an NGO. The suspension letter (available at MHA web-site) lists some notable worry-points:

1. Transfer of foreign contribution for activities outside India

2. Paying fees / expenses for foreigners who were visiting India on a tourist visa

3. Depositing FC directly into a utilization bank account

4. Transfer of funds between two utilization bank accounts

5. Transfer of funds between local and FCRA bank accounts

6. Organizing dharna / rally with 'political hue'

7. Advocacy / lobbying with MPs

The legal basis for some of these (1, 2, 6, 7) is not very clear, and the charges may not hold up in a court. However, it would be wise to keep in line till there is a clear court order on disputed issues.

Ref: 1. Suspension letter dated 31-May-16

(https://fcraonline.nic.in/home/PDF_Doc/LawyersCollective_01062016.PDF)

Saturday, July 16, 2016

No tribunal needed to enforce FCRA, current system robust: Govt

The Centre has told Delhi High Court that the government has a "robust and efficient" system to implement the foreign contributions regulations law as it has already imposed penalties, frozen accounts and referred to CBI and state police several NGOs for violations.

The Centre has told Delhi High Court that the government has a “robust and efficient” system to implement the foreign contributions regulations law as it has already imposed penalties, frozen accounts and referred to CBI and state police several NGOs for violations.

The government in its affidavit filed before a bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal said there was no need for any tribunal or body for enforcement of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010, as doing so would be a “wastage of precious resources in terms of money and man power, both of judiciary as of executive”.

The submissions were made in response to a PIL by an NGO, Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR), seeking creation of an independent body to implement the FCRA on grounds that conflict of interest hampered implementation of its provisions by the government, as political parties which allegedly violate this law were part of the ruling establishments sometime or the other.

ADR has alleged that implementation of FCRA appeared to be strict on NGOs but not on politicians. It has claimed that despite a high court judgement last year holding the BJP and Congress prima facie guilty of violating FCRA provisions, the government had not taken any action.

The government in its affidavit has contended that “at present, our system of administering FCRA is robust, efficient, just and fair and there is no need for establishing separate body or tribunal for enforcing FCRA.”

“The number of court cases pending in relation to enforcement of FCRA 2010 is 12. The miniscule number of court cases indicates there is no justification for establishment of a separate judicial tribunal for enforcement of FCRA, 2010 as it may lead to wastage of precious resources in terms of money and manpower, both of judiciary as of executive,” it has said.

The Centre has contended that the ADR’s petition appears to have been preferred on behalf of various NGOs whose registration under FCRA, 2010 has been cancelled for various irregularities and statutory non-compliances.

The government has also said in its affidavit that “to ensure that foreign contribution is not misused or diverted, a monitoring unit in the FCRA wing has been designated to monitor the receipt and utilisation of foreign contribution”.

It said several instances of NGOs violating provisions of FCRA 2010 and FCRR 2011 have come to the government’s notice.

“Since implementation of FCRA and FCRR, notices were issued to around 21000 associations in 2011 and to 10343 associations in 2014 for not filing annual returns continuously for three years.

“Consequently, registration of 4138 associations was cancelled in July 2012 and of 10117 in March 2015 after issue of show cause notices to such associations and giving them adequate opportunity to reply to the same. After inspections and scrutiny of accounts, 24 cases were referred to CBI and 10 to state police for further investigation and prosecution,” the affidavit said.

It also said “the accounts of 34 associations have been frozen and that 66 associations have been prohibited from receiving foreign contribution. That in 2014 penalty amounting to over Rs 5.20 crore had been imposed on 341 associations for late or non-submission of mandatory annual returns and of Rs 51.99 lakh on 24 associations for receipt and utilisation of foreign contribution without obtaining registration or prior permission under FCRA.”

Source: http://www.financialexpress.com/economy/no-tribunal-needed-enforce-fcra-current-system-robust-govt/315983/

Monday, July 4, 2016

Check – NGO has filled Quarterly Return or not

As all of you aware that now, every NGO having FCRA registration needs to either file quarterly return online at the FCRA website or upload it to their own website.

FCRA department has just made it public the list of NGOs who have filled quarterly return for the period Oct-Dec and Jan-March for the year 2015-16.

Follow these steps to check whether your NGO has filled Quarterly Return or not.

Step 1 – visit https://fcraonline.nic.in

Step 2 – Click on “Information Bank” in the Menu

Step 3 – Click on last tab as mentioned below in screenshot

So, on this list you can check which NGO has filled return. It is advisable use Find Button by pressing “Ctrl F”. Also search NGO by registration instead of name to get accurate result.

Procedure to be followed by office bearers of NGOs to comply with latest amendments under The Lokpal & Lokayuktas Act 2013

Procedure to be followed by office bearers of NGOs to comply with latest amendments under The Lokpal & Lokayuktas Act 2013

The Lokpal & Lokayuktas Act 2013 was one of the last legislation enacted by UPA Government before demitting office in 2014, under pressure from the anti-corruption movement spearheaded by Shri Anna Hazare at the time.

The Act is to provide a constitutional body for probing corruption in the Government including Prime Minister, Minister, legislature and other public servants. S. 14 (g) & (h) identified in what situations officials of NGOs can be covered.

S.14 (g) covered all bodies including NGOs which receive support from the Government for a specified amount. It covered any person who has been adirector, manager, secretary or other officer of every society or association of persons or trust, by whatever name called, wholly or partly financed by the Government and the annual income of which exceeds such amounts as the Central Government may by notification, specify. This the Central Government has now by notification[1] has notified to be Rs 1 crores.

While Director, manager, secretary or other officer of every society or association of persons or trust has not been defined, it is clear that it covers persons who are in a position to take day to day decisions, meaning office bearers and key full-time officials of an NGO, such as CEO/ED, etc. are likely to be covered by the Act.

Similarly S. 14 (h) classifies officials of a Voluntary Organisation receiving more than Rs 10 lakh through FCRA in a year as public servants.



For the purposes of monitoring public servants, S. 44 of the Act requires filing of annual return of assets and liabilities (base being 31st March) by 31st July of that year. Assets and liabilities are to include those of spouse and dependent children. The exact provisions are given in the accompanying Box.



The Government has now come out with a notification[2] appointing the competent authority for the purposes of compliance to S.44[3] by public servants as classified under S.14(g), (organizations receiving support from the government). As per this the Minister Incharge of the Ministry which provides funds to NGOs would be the competent authority. In case of multi-ministries providing the grant, the competent authority would be the Minister Incharge of the ministry providing the largest grant. Notification further clarifies that the competent authority may change from year to year according to the grant amount and the ministry providing the grant. It also states that a copy of annual return filed with the ‘competent authority’ may be filed with other ministries who have given the grant, ostensibly for information only, since the other ministries are not the compliance authority. Return will need to be filed till the grant provided has not been fully exhausted.

Similarly to enable compliance by public servants as classified under S.14 (h), the Central Government by notification[4] on 20th June 2016 has notified Minister Incharge of Ministry of Home Affairs as the competent body (organizations receiving more than Rs 10 lakh grants under FCRA). The notification also states that the returns will continue to be filed till such time that the donation amount so received is not fully exhausted

Huge relief to FCRA Pentities for late filing of returns

FCRA Dept has come out with a notification No. 1521 dt 16 June 2016 slashing compounding Fees for late filing of the return.
As per the new notification, following are the new slabs for the penalties.
S. No.
Offence
Penalty amount
1
Non-furnishing of Annual Return for 3 months after 31st December
2% of FC rec’d during the year or Rs 10,000whichever is less
2
Non-furnishing of Annual Return after 3 months but upto 6 months after 31stDecember
3% of FC rec’d during the year or Rs 50,000whichever is less
3
Non-furnishing of Annual Return after 6 months but upto one year after 31stDecember
4% of FC rec’d during the year or Rs 2 lakhwhichever is less
4
Non-furnishing of Annual Return after 1 year but upto 2 years after 31st December
5% of FC rec’d during the year or Rs 5 lakhwhichever is less
5
Non-furnishing of Annual Return after 2 year but upto 3 years after 31st December
10% of FC rec’d during the year or Rs 10 lakhwhichever is less
6


It may be noted that the major reduction in penalties is due to replacing of phrase ‘whichever is more’ to ‘whichever is less’. This will be a major relief as earlier penalty procedures were amounting to lakhs and lakhs of penalties, even forcing organizations to abandon their organisatons.

The notification also states that in all those cases, where penalties have already been imposed using the old rates, nothing can be done. Once again an arbitrary decision, not based on legal principles.

Clarification-Validity Renewal Registration under FCRA 2010

FCRA registration further extended

FCRA department issued a notification on 29th june to further extend FCRA registration from 30 Sept 2016 to 31 Oct 2016. Also extend the time for applying for renewal of registration up to 20 June 2016.

FCRA registration further extended

FCRA department issued a notification on 29th june to further extend FCRA registration from 30 Sept 2016 to 31 Oct 2016.

Also extend the time for applying for renewal of registration up to 20 June 2016.

PM urged to probe NGO funding over tobacco laws

An association of beedi makers has urged Prime MinisterNarendra Modi to order an inquiry into the foreign funds received by NGOs to lobby to change India's tobacco laws.

The Akhila Bharathiya Beedi Mazdoor Maha Sangh (ABBMMS), affiliated to the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, alleged that NGOS got $25.66 million to influence the media, politicians and lawmakers to push for legislation that would help multinational cigarette makers to enter the Indian market.

"We seek your intervention to order an inquiry into NGOs using foreign money to fund paid media and political lobbying to push for regulations for tobacco products that benefit multinational cigarette companies whose products are smuggled into India," a letter addressed to Modi stated.

The letter, written by ABBMMS President Kalal Srinivas, also stated that the implementation of the mandated 85 per cent pictorial health warnings would benefit illegally smuggled products of multinational cigarette companies.

"We understand that many NGOs have played a vital role for these regulations, which is welcome... However, their funding source when revealed gives a shocking data that as many as $25.66 million have been received by these NGOs/other organisations," said the letter.

According to the letter, 39 NGOs received foreign funding.

According to the association, while the majority of the funding was to further the implementation of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), a developed country like the US had not ratified the FCTC.

The Tobacco Institute of India has said that the 85 per cent pictorial warning has destroyed the legal cigarette industry and boosted illegal trade.

According to a recent study by FICCI, illegal cigarettes account for a huge 20.2 per cent slice of the cigarette industry and results in a loss of Rs 9,000 crore of government revenue.

Source: http://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ians/pm-urged-to-probe-ngo-funding-over-tobacco-laws-116062900491_1.html

PM urged to probe NGO funding over tobacco laws

An association of beedi makers has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to order an inquiry into the foreign funds received by NGOs to lobby to change India's tobacco laws.

The Akhila Bharathiya Beedi Mazdoor Maha Sangh (ABBMMS), affiliated to the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, alleged that NGOS got $25.66 million to influence the media, politicians and lawmakers to push for legislation that would help multinational cigarette makers to enter the Indian market.

"We seek your intervention to order an inquiry into NGOs using foreign money to fund paid media and political lobbying to push for regulations for tobacco products that benefit multinational cigarette companies whose products are smuggled into India," a letter addressed to Modi stated.

The letter, written by ABBMMS President Kalal Srinivas, also stated that the implementation of the mandated 85 per cent pictorial health warnings would benefit illegally smuggled products of multinational cigarette companies.

"We understand that many NGOs have played a vital role for these regulations, which is welcome... However, their funding source when revealed gives a shocking data that as many as $25.66 million have been received by these NGOs/other organisations," said the letter.

According to the letter, 39 NGOs received foreign funding.

According to the association, while the majority of the funding was to further the implementation of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), a developed country like the US had not ratified the FCTC.

The Tobacco Institute of India has said that the 85 per cent pictorial warning has destroyed the legal cigarette industry and boosted illegal trade.

According to a recent study by FICCI, illegal cigarettes account for a huge 20.2 per cent slice of the cigarette industry and results in a loss of Rs 9,000 crore of government revenue.

Read more at http://www.thestatesman.com/news/india/pm-urged-to-probe-ngo-funding-over-tobacco-laws/151119.html#IyXz0oz70ipXem89.99

PM urged to probe NGO funding over tobacco laws

New Delhi, June 29 (IANS): An association of beedi makers has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to order an inquiry into the foreign funds received by NGOs to lobby to change India's tobacco laws.

The Akhila Bharathiya Beedi Mazdoor Maha Sangh (ABBMMS), affiliated to the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, alleged that NGOS got $25.66 million to influence the media, politicians and lawmakers to push for legislation that would help multinational cigarette makers to enter the Indian market.

"We seek your intervention to order an inquiry into NGOs using foreign money to fund paid media and political lobbying to push for regulations for tobacco products that benefit multinational cigarette companies whose products are smuggled into India," a letter addressed to Modi stated.

The letter, written by ABBMMS President Kalal Srinivas, also stated that the implementation of the mandated 85 per cent pictorial health warnings would benefit illegally smuggled products of multinational cigarette companies.

"We understand that many NGOs have played a vital role for these regulations, which is welcome... However, their funding source when revealed gives a shocking data that as many as $25.66 million have been received by these NGOs/other organisations," said the letter.

According to the letter, 39 NGOs received foreign funding.

According to the association, while the majority of the funding was to further the implementation of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), a developed country like the US had not ratified the FCTC.

The Tobacco Institute of India has said that the 85 per cent pictorial warning has destroyed the legal cigarette industry and boosted illegal trade.

According to a recent study by FICCI, illegal cigarettes account for a huge 20.2 per cent slice of the cigarette industry and results in a loss of Rs 9,000 crore of government revenue.

Source: http://www.daijiworld.com/news/news_disp.asp?n_id=401823



Beedi workers union seeks probe into NGO funding

New Delhi, Jun 30 (PTI) BMS affiliate beedi workers union today sought a probe into alleged foreign funding of NGOs and legal firms for purportedly pushing regulations of tobacco products that benefit MNCs.

Akhil Bharathiya Beedi Mazdoor Maha Sangh (ABMSS) President Kalal Srinivas has written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in this regard demanding action.

"... Srinivas in his letter... has alleged that foreign funds worth more than USD 25.66 million were received by NGOs and legal firms in the last couple of years to fund political lobbying to push for regulations of tobacco products that benefit multinational cigarette companies whose products are smuggled into India," ABMSS said in a statement.
Srinivas added that regulations related to cigarette and other tobacco products mandating 85 per cent pictorial health warnings on packets will lead to smuggling of products.

"This does not appeal to any common person as to how these NGOs... are pushing governments of developing nations to change their laws," he said.

However, ABMSS acknowledged that "any NGO formed in the interest of public health is important" and does not wish to challenge that. PTI JTR ARD