Cases of erroneous renewal of foreign funding licences of NGOs, which were blacklisted by the government, continue to tumble out of the foreigners division of the Union home ministry with prominent social activist Shabnam Hashmi's ANHAD (Act Now for Harmony and Democracy) and three others being the latest on the list.
The home ministry on Thursday cancelled ANHAD's FCRA licence after it realised that the licence had been renewed ''inadvertently'' on March 20. The NGO had been earlier blacklisted by the MHA. The other NGOs, whose licence has been cancelled after being renewed in the recent past, are Rajasthan based Marwar Muslim Education and Welfare Society, Gujarat based Navsarjan Trust and Rural Development Research Centre of Ahmedabad.
In an order dated December 15, a copy of which has been accessed by THE WEEK, the home ministry said that the ANHAD had come to ''adverse notice for its undesirable activities against public interest''. For Marwar, the MHA said that the association had come to the adverse notice for ''undesirable activities that would increase inter sectarian tension among Muslims in India as well as increase fundamentalism''. The Rural Development Research Centre based in Ahmedabad has been charged with misappropriation of funds. While cancelling the registration of Navsarjan Trust , the home ministry said that the Gujarat based NGO was indulging in undesirable activities ''aimed to affect prejudicially harmony between religious, racial, social, linguistic, regional groups, castes or communities.”
ANHAD, which had been registered under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 1976 (now FCRA 2010) to receive foreign contribution for cultural, educational and social purposes, had submitted an online application for renewal of registration certificate on December 31, 2015 while the others had submitted renewal applications between February and March this year.
The ministry stated that while the renewal applications of the NGOs ought to have been refused under section 12(4) (f) iii of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act 2010, the registration certificate of the associations were ''inadvertently renewed by the officer concerned of the FCRA wing of the foreigners division''.
The ministry said that it had decided to revise the orders for renewal and, exercising the powers under section 32 of FCRA, declared them ''non-est ab-initio''.
“There is a need to revise the order for renewal of registration in public interest,” says the ministry in its fresh orders issued by under secretary in foreigners division Brajesh Kumar Singh and dispatched to the chief functionary of ANHAD at its Nizamuddin West address in Delhi.
ANHAD, which was set up after the Gujarat riots of 2002, has played a major role in fighting against human rights violations in Gujarat as well as Jammu and Kashmir. Now, Hashmi's NGO and the others have joined the ranks of Teesta Setalvad's Sabrang Trust and Citizens for Justice and Peace, Greenpeace and controversial televangelist Zakir Naik's Islamic Research Foundation whose licences were also renewed inadvertently in August this year only to be cancelled once again by an embarrassed home ministry. The ministry is suspecting it to be either a case of hacking of its online system of FCRA clearances, a foul play by its staff or a case of oversight and lack of monitoring by the senior officers.
“Only an internal inquiry, fresh audit and the findings of the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT), which has been roped in by the MHA to probe the hacking angle, will be able to pin point the reason behind the multiple 'inadvertent errors' by the foreigners division of the ministry,” said a senior official.