New Delhi: In fresh crackdown on an NGO run by social activist Teesta Setalvad, the Home Ministry on Thursday suspended its registration for six months accusing the organisation of violating Foreign Currency (Regulation) Act that invites termination of its licence.
In an order, the Home Ministry said exercising the powers conferred under Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, the registration of Sabrang Trust has been suspended for a period of 180 days with effect from 10 September, 2015.
The Sabrang Trust, run by Teesta and her husband Javed Anand, can make a representation against the order within 30 days. However, if the Home Ministry is not satisfied with the reply of the NGO, its registration will be cancelled.
Another NGO run by Teesta and her husband, Citizens for Justice and Peace, has already been put under prior permission category, thus making it mandatory for the organisation to take permission from the Home Ministry before accepting or utilising any foreign contribution.
Following a recommendation of the Home Ministry, CBI has registered a case and launched a probe against Sabrang Communication and Publishing Pvt Limited, a commercial firm run by Teesta, for allegedly accepting and utilising foreign contribution in violation of FCRA.
Teesta has pursued the cases of post-Godhra riots victims in Gujarat when Narendra Modi was Chief Minister of the state.
Today's Home Ministry order said that during the course of inspection of records of Sabrang Trust, it was noticed that both Teesta and Javed Anand are chief functionary or trustee of the NGO.
Both are also working as directors, co-editors, printers and publisher in the company namely Sabrang Communications & Publishing Pvt Limited (SCPPL) and published a magazine called 'Communalism Combat'. SCPPL had accepted contribution from foreign source, thus violating FCRA, it said.
On inspection of accounts of Sabrang Trust, it was noticed that the Association has received total donation of Rs 48.42 lakh and Rs 49.10 lakh in 2010-11 and 2011-12 respectively out of which they have spent Rs 30.97 lakh and Rs 27.07 lakh which comes to 64.23 per cent and 55.14 per cent respectively, on administrative expenses.
As per section 8 (1)(b) of FCRA 2010 requires approval of the Home Ministry before incurring expenses on administrative head exceeding 50 per cent limit. Thus, it is a violation of FCRA, the ministry said.
During the course of inspection of books and records of the NGO by the Home Ministry, it was noticed that payments of Rs 50 lakh were made by Sabrang Trust to Sabrang Communications & Publishing Pvt, Limited which seems to have been used for personal gain.
On review of vouchers of Sabrang Trust, it has been noticed that the Association has transferred Rs 2.46 lakh from foreign contribution designated account to Sabrang Trust's domestic account without any logical reason.
This raises the suspicion of mixing of funds by the Association and it can be treated as non-utilisation of foreign contribution for the purpose for which it was received and mixing of foreign contribution with domestic contribution. This is violation of FCRA, the ministry contended.
On review of vouchers of the Association, it is found that Sabrang Trust has made direct payments of approximately Rs 12 lakh from FCRA designated account to Citi Bank and Union Bank of India on account of credit cards belonging to Teesta and Javed Anand respectively as payments.
The cards are issued in the name of individuals and the above mentioned payments appears that the foreign contribution has been used for personal gain and not authorised as per FCRA.
Sabrang Trust paid Rs 1,174 for purchasing an internal medical policy in favour of Anand for attending a conference in Lahore and Rs 4,227 was paid to Anand for purchasing books and travel expenses for attending the People Union for Civil Liberty meeting. The Home Ministry said that from the payments it appears that foreign contribution has been used for personal gain, thus violating FCRA provisions.
The Home Ministry said that during inspection of books and records of the NGO, it was noticed that payments of Rs 50 lakh were made by Sabrang Trust to SCPPL which appears to have been used for personal gain. SCPPL is not registered under FCRA and not entitled to accept foreign contribution by any means.
On review of the registration certificate of Sabrang Trust, the Home Ministry has found that it was registered under FCRA under the nature of 'Education and Social'. On scrutiny, it was noticed that the NGO received Rs 1.52 lakh as foreign contribution under the nature of 'Cultural'.
Further, this amount has been reflected in annual filing of return in two different columns -- Rs 1.02 lakh as under 'Maintenance of place of historical and culture importance' and Rs 50,000 under 'Other expenses'.
The Home Ministry said this indicates that the NGO has received the foreign contribution for the purpose which is not permitted as per mandate of FCRA registration certificate of Sabrang Trust.
It has been noticed that the NGO has transferred Rs 2.46 lakh from its foreign contribution designated account to Sabrang Trust's domestic account without any logical reason. This may be treated as non-utilisation of foreign contribution for the purpose for which it was received and mixing of foreign contribution with domestic contribution violating the provisions of FCRA, the Home Ministry said.
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Updated Date: Sep 10, 2015 22:51:52 IST