In a major flip flop, the home ministry on Wednesday cancelled renewal of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) licence of Greenpeace India and two non-government organisations (NGOs) run by activist Teesta Setalvad, three months after “inadvertently” allowing their registration for five more years.
Renewal of FCRA licence of Greenpeace India, Teesta’s NGOs Sabrang Trust and Citizens for Justice and Peace stands cancelled with immediate effect, a home ministry official said. The ministry also ordered review of recent renewal of FCRA registration of 13,000 NGOs to look into the possible goof ups of existing rules.
The home ministry also ordered a probe by the Computer Emergency Response Team-India to ascertain whether there was hacking of government software systems as there have been several instances where licences of NGOs under scrutiny were renewed automatically.
The government ordered that applications of all “red-flagged NGOs will have to be vetted by joint secretary handling home ministry’s foreigners division. Orders, generated online, renewing FCRA licence of Greenpeace India, Sabrang Trust and Citizens for Justice and Peace stand “null and void” and the licence to these NGOs stands cancelled and they cannot receive foreign funds, the official said.
Registration of these three NGOs was renewed for five years in September. While licence of Greenpeace India, Sabrang Trust were cancelled by the government in the past, Citizens for Justice and Peace was put in prior permission category, thus preventing it to receive foreign funds without government permission.
The home ministry had seen embarrassing moments two months ago when similar lapses were witnessed in “automatic renewal” of licence of Zakir Naik-run NGO—Islamic Research Foundation (IRF)—leading to suspension of four officials including a joint secretary.
The licence of IRF was later cancelled by the government permanently after declaring it as a terror outfit. The three NGOs were accused of “prejudicial affecting public interest” of the country and alleged violation of various provisions of FCRA.