According to the home ministry, the institutes have failed to file their annual returns for the last five years.
New Delhi: The Centre has reportedly cancelled the FCRA (Foreign Contribution Regulation Act) licenses of several well known educational institutions, including Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi University, IIT Delhi and the Indian Council for Agrarian Research.
According to the Indian Express, the home ministry has taken this decision because the institutes, and several hundred other organisations who have also had their licences revoked, reportedly failed to file their annual returns for the last five years. The Supreme Court Bar Association, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), Panjab University, Gargi College (Delhi), Lady Irwin College (Delhi), Escorts Heart Institute and Research Centre, Gandhi Peace Foundation, Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan, Armed Forces Flag Day Fund, School Of Planning & Architecture (Delhi) and FICCI Socio Economic Development Foundation have also been barred from receiving foreign funds, the newspaper reported.
An FCRA licence is mandatory for any organisation wanting to receive funding from abroad.
The Doon School Old Boys Association, Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Khalsa College (Delhi), Dr. Zakir Hussain Memorial Trust, Dr Ram Monohar Lohia International Trust and the Co-ordinating Voluntary Adoption Resource Agency are also on the list of organisations who can no longer be funded by anyone outside India, Hindustan Times reported.
Several of the institutions on the list said they were not aware of the change. IIT Delhi director Ramgopal Rao and JNU registrar Pramod Kumar told the Telegraph that they had not been informed about the cancellation. “It has not come to our level. I am hearing such a thing for the first time,” Rao said. “I have no idea about this,” the JNU registrar said.
Promila Kumar, acting principal of Gargi College, told Indian Express, “We have filed our returns. In fact, we got a reminder about filing returns recently and we informed the government that we have already complied. I’m not sure why this has happened.”
ICMR director general Soumya Swaminathan told the newspaper that the matter had been resolved. “The home ministry had written to ICMR earlier this year, saying that it has FCRA exemption. However, as per the rules, it is required to submit an annual report to the home ministry on the receipt and utilisation of funds. That report will be submitted shortly, with whatever other formality that is required. We expect this to be sorted out in the next couple of days,” said an advisor to the minister, saying it was yet to be completely sorted out.
A home ministry official told the Indian Express that the organisations had been sent repeated reminders but they still did not comply. In May, as a one-time measure, all NGOs were given one month to file their annual returns without penalty. “This was followed by regular email alerts from May 19, 2017 to June 14, 2017… daily SMS alerts from May 5, 2017 to June 14, 2017. However, despite sufficient and adequate notice, it was observed that thousands of NGOs had not uploaded their annual returns for three or more than three years within the stipulated time,” the official told the newspaper.
The home minister has also directed another 1,222 NGOs across the country to validate the bank accounts in which they receive foreign contributions, saying the failure to do this will invite punitive action. Among others, the list includes Sri Ramakrishna Math, Ramakrishna Mission, Indore Cancer Foundation Charitable Trust, Coimbatore Christian Charitable Trust, Delhi School Of Social Work Society, Hindu Anath Ashram and Madani Darut Tarbiyat.
The Narendra Modi government has been criticised in the past for using the FCRA to target those who question it, as well as not giving organisations enough notice on the norms and procedures of the Act. In December last year, the home ministry cancelled the licences of 20,000 organisations.
(With PTI inputs)