CBI Registers Case Against Oxfam India, Office Bearers for FCRA Violations

The action comes days after the Union home ministry recommended a probe into the NGO.

New Delhi: Days after the Union home ministry recommended a probe into Oxfam India, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday, April 19, registered a case against the NGO for violating the conditions of its foreign funding license and attempts to pressure the Union government to renew the licence by using foreign governments and institutions.

The case has been registered against Oxfam India and its office-bearers. According to NDTV, the CBI is conducting searches at the offices of the non-governmental organisation. The CBI has taken cognizance of at least five alleged violations by Oxfam India based on a complaint filed by Jeetendar Chadha, the director of the MHA’s monitoring unit.

The NGO’s license under the Foreign Contributions (Regulation) Act, which is necessary to receive foreign funds, was not renewed by the MHA 14 months ago.

In a statement that was issued after the MHA recommended a probe against it, Oxfam India said that it is fully compliant with Indian laws and has filed all its statutory compliances, including FCRA returns, in a timely manner. “Oxfam India has been cooperating with all government agencies since its FCRA registration wasn’t renewed in December 2021,” it said, adding that it has filed a plea in the Delhi high court against the decision to not renew its FCRA license.

“In times of growing inequality and greater need for action on poverty eradication, Oxfam India has been and will continue to work in public and national interest. Oxfam India believes this is our constitutional duty as an organisation, irrespective of obstacles and hurdles in the path,” it had said.

What does FIR say?

According to the Deccan Herald, the MHA’s complaint, which is part of the FIR, says that Oxfam India planned to circumvent the FCRA by “routing funds through means other than the legal route”. It said that surveys by the Income Tax department showed that Oxfam had paid Rs 12.71 lakh to the Centre for Policy Research (CPR) in the form of commissions to employees or associates, which is in violation of its FCRA licence which was granted to do social activities.

CPR’s FCRA registration was suspended by the MHA on March 1.

An email found during the IT survey claimed that Oxfam India has been “planning to pressurise the Indian government for renewal of FCRA (licence) through foreign governments and foreign institutions”.

“Oxfam India has the reach and influence to request multilateral foreign organisations to intervene on its behalf with the Government of India. This exposed Oxfam India as a probable instrument of foreign policy of foreign organisations/entities which have funded Oxfam India liberally over the years,” the FIR says, quoting the complaint, according to Deccan Herald.

Some of the institutes that the NGO wanted to involve in pressuring the Indian government were the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the European Union, the US State Department, Asian Development Bank and various European governments, according to an IT department document attached with the FIR.