Over half of FCRA registrations from Nagaland cancelled till date

Morung Express News 
Dimapur | September 24 

Over half of registration certificates of associations in Nagaland have been cancelled for violation of various provisions of the FCRA- Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act 2010 since 2012, according to an official data.

Out of 260 such associations, a total of 136 (52.30%) were in the “List of Associations whose registration has been cancelled,” informed fcraonline.nic.in, the portal maintained by Ministry of Home Affairs for such purposes.

In addition, there were 39 in the “List of Registered Associations deemed to have ceased (Validity of Certificate has expired)”, showed the information on the portal. 

Collectively, a total of 175 (or 67.30%) FCRA registrations were either “cancelled” or “deemed to have ceased” in the State since 2012.  

As a result, out of 260, only 85 FCRA registered associations were denoted active “as on today” informed the FCRA Dashboard on the portal accessed on September 24.   Overall, out of 49859 total FCRA Associations in India, 22444 were active while the rest were either Cancelled – 20674 or Deemed expired – 6741. 

A deeper analysis of the data depicted that the cancellation of registrations has been highest in 2015 at 56 and since then there have been 113 cancellations. There was one cancellation in 2014 and 33 in 2012.

As per the portal, 7 FCRA Registered Associations filed their foreign contribution (FC)-return in 2019-2020 in Nagaland.  In 2018-2019, 81 associations filed their returns. 

Meanwhile, the Parliament on September 23, amid Opposition’s boycott of proceedings, passed the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2020, amending the 2010 Act and providing for various other changes, including mandatory Aadhaar number for those receiving foreign funds. 

The Bill was introduced in Lok Sabha on September 20 and passed the next day and will now be sent to the President for his assent.

What is FCRA 2010 and 2020?
The FCRA 2010  was enacted by the Parliament to consolidate the law to regulate the “acceptance and utilization of foreign contribution or foreign hospitality by certain individuals or associations or companies and to prohibit acceptance and utilization of foreign contribution or foreign hospitality for any activities detrimental to national interest and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.”

FCRA, 2010 repealed the FCRA, 1976, stated the FAQ section of FCRA portal.

Who can receive fund? 
The provisions of the Act are applicable to whole of India; citizens of India outside India; and associate branches or subsidiaries, outside India, of companies or bodies corporate, registered or incorporated in India.

“Foreign contribution" among others include, donation, delivery or transfer made by any foreign source (i) of any article, not being an article given to a person* as a gift for personal use; (ii) of any currency, whether Indian or foreign; and (iii) of any security defined under certain section of the Securities Contracts (Regulation) Act, 1956 and the Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999.

Any “Person” can receive foreign contribution subject to following conditions that it must have: a definite cultural, economic, educational, religious or social programme; obtain the FCRA registration or prior permission from the Central Government: and it must not be prohibited under Section 3 of FCRA, 2010.

Who cannot receive fund?
Under the FCRA, 2010, certain persons are prohibited to accept any foreign contribution. These, among others, include  (a) candidate for election;  (b) correspondent, columnist, cartoonist, editor, owner, printer or publisher of a registered newspaper;  (c) Judge, Government servant or employee of any corporation or any other body controlled or owned by the Government;  (d) member of any legislature;  (e) political party or office bearer;  (f) organization of a political nature as may be specified under sub-section (1) of Section 5 by the Central Government. (g) Association or company engaged in the production or broadcast of audio news or audio visual news or current affairs programmes through any electronic mode, or any other electronic form as defined in clause (r) of sub-section (1) of Section 2 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 or any other mode of mass communication.

The 2020 Bill added “public servants” (as defined under the Indian Penal Code) to the list, which according to PRS Legislative Research explanation, includes “any person who is in service or pay of the government, or remunerated by the government for the performance of any public duty.”

Main features of the FCRA 2020 bill 

According to PRS, under the Act, foreign contribution cannot be transferred to any other person unless such person is also registered to accept foreign contribution or has obtained prior permission under the Act to obtain foreign contribution. The term ‘person’ refers to an individual, an association, or a registered company.

The amended Bill stated that “any person seeking prior permission, registration or renewal of registration must provide the Aadhaar number of all its office bearers, directors or key functionaries, as an identification document” while in case of a foreigner, a copy of the passport or the Overseas Citizen of India card for identification must be provided.  

Under the Act, a registered person must accept foreign contribution only in a single branch of a scheduled bank specified by them though they may open more accounts in other banks for utilisation of the contribution, PRS highlighted.  

Regarding this condition, the IANS news agency reported that the Minister of State of Home Nityanand Rai clarified in the parliament that the concerned the associations do not have to travel to Delhi for registration but the “nearest SBI account will facilitate the opening of account in New Delhi." 

In the case of utilisation of foreign contribution, the Act stated that if a person accepting foreign contribution is found guilty of violating any provisions, the unutilised or unreceived foreign contribution may be utilised or received, only with the prior approval of the central government.

Under the Act, every person who has been given a certificate of registration must renew the certificate within six months of expiration, PRS explained regarding its renewal.

“The Bill provides that the government may conduct an inquiry before renewing the certificate to ensure that the person making the application” is not fictitious; has not been prosecuted or convicted for creating communal tension or indulging in activities aimed at religious conversion; and  has not been found guilty of diversion or misutilisation of funds, among others conditions, it said. 

The amended Bill further stated that the foreign contribution must use it only for the purpose it was received and reduced the usage of this fund for administrative expenses from 50% to 20%.

The Government may suspend the registration of a person for a period not exceeding 180 days and the Bill added that such suspension may be extended up to an additional 180 days.