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FCRA licences of 20,000 NGOs cancelled: For Modi govt the Act is a repression tool

The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government has cancelled Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) licences of about ever since it came to power in May 2014.

The home ministry, which took the action, has justified it saying these organisations were technically violating various provisions of the Act.

Cancellation of license would mean that these NGOs are no longer eligible to receive foreign funds. It should be noted that several of these NGOs are involved in rights-based advocacy work, especially working in the domain of human rights.

A plethora of civil society organisations have issued statements against this mass cancellation of FCRA licences stating that this is nothing but an ‘abuse of legal procedures’.

A file image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. APA file image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AP

A file image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AP

They also “unequivocally condemned the present use of the FCRA as a tool of repression by the current government”.

Organisations such as Greenpeace India, Amnesty International India, TARSHI Delhi and the Centre for Social Justice were all signatories to this statement.

Even the National Human Rights Commission has issued a notice to the home ministry on the issue.

“Prima facie it appears FCRA licence non-renewal is neither legal nor objective and thereby impinging on the rights of the human rights defenders in access to funding, including foreign funding,” the apex human rights watchdog in the country said in the notice.

The FCRA is an intimidating law, especially since the original Act came into force in 1976 during the Emergency by the Indira Gandhi-led government. The Act, at that time, prohibited MPs, electoral candidates, political parties, judges from accepting foreign contributions.

Even “correspondents, columnist, cartoonist, editor, owner, printer or publisher of a registered newspaper” were included in the ambit of the definition of candidate under the Act. The objective was certainly to remove all voices of political dissent, though the ostensible legislative intent suggested that the law was to restrain foreign intervention from internal, domestic matters.

The new FCRA, amended by the Finance Bill 2016, has many changes that render it more severe than its predecessor.

For one, the registration under the previous FCRA was permanent; the present law has altered this, mandating that FCRA licences would expire after five years.

A renewal process would mean that prescribed authorities, that is the State, would have arbitrary power to decide whether an NGO can renew its licence afresh.

The new law also puts a 50 percent restriction on the proportion of foreign funds, thereby controlling the way an NGO spends its money.

Another change, and perhaps a significant one, is that the 1976 law targetted political parties. The new law, however, aims at “organisations of a political nature”.

The FCRA Rules, 2011, drafted by the United Progressive Alliance government, defines what “organisations of a political nature” may include – farmers’ organisations, students’ unions, trade unions, workers’ unions, youth forums, women’s wing of political parties, youth organisations based on caste, community, religion, language and “any organisation… which habitually engages itself in or employs common methods of political action like ‘bandh’ or ‘hartal’, ‘rasta roko’, ‘rail roko’ or ‘jail bharo’ in support of public causes”. The list is astonishing as it clearly targets people and organisations that want to critique, censure and challenge present political discourse.

It is absolutely appalling that the government would amend the legislation in a way that all “organisations of a political nature” are rendered powerless, while political parties are vindicated for prior violations of the law.

In 2014, the Delhi High Court indicted both the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) as well as the Congress of receiving foreign funds in violation of provisions of Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA).

The verdict came after a public interest litigation (PIL) was filed by the Association for Democratic Reforms. A division bench comprising justice Pradeep Nandrajog and justice Jayant Nath asked the government and the Election Commission (EC) to act against the two political parties for accepting foreign funds from Vedanta subsidiaries.

The question, at this juncture, is why is the government apprehensive of NGOs whose work is to democratically interrogate so that constitutional rights and freedoms are not violated. Another question is whether the FCRA is indeed a tool of repression as civil society organisations have declared?

In April 2015, a legal analysis was developed by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association.

It stated that FCRA norms and regulations “are not in conformity with international law, principles and standards”. The FCRA violates the right to freedom of association, an integral freedom incorporated within the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which India is a party.

The right, though not absolute, are amenable to reasonable restriction; however, the analysis suggests that restrictions such as “public interest” and “economic interest” invoked under the FCRA cannot be termed as legitimate restrictions as they are too ambiguous and may give rise to arbitrary and discretionary powers.

Therefore, should the FCRA be repealed? Perhaps not, as regulation of NGO funding is a significant matter. However, curbing the voices in the civil society by way of a colourable legislation is unacceptable and simply put, draconian.

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 21:24 IST

FCRA licence of 20,000 NGO’s cancelled: Here is what the govt actually said

The government, on Wednesday, said that it has cancelled the FCRA licence of close to 20,000 of the 33,000 NGOs operating in the country after they were found to be flouting certain norms laid out in the Foreign Contributions Registrations Act, 2010.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh. PTI

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh. PTI

The FCRA or Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 is nothing but a regulatory act formed to keep a check on civil society bodies that may be receiving foreign funds in an illegal manner. Therefore, the cancellation of an FCRA licence means that the NGOs in question can no longer take funds from a foreign contributor but they can continue to work on donations given by Indian companies and individuals.

Home Ministry officials said after cancellation of the FCRA licences of around 20,000 NGOs, only 13,000 NGOs in the country are legally valid now to receive foreign funds.

The exercise of reviewing the working of the NGOs was started about a year ago and the process is still continuing, official sources said.

Among the 13,000 valid NGOs, around 3,000 have submitted applications for renewal while Ministry of Home Affairs received 2,000 new applications for registration under the FCRA for the first time.

An additional 300 NGOs are currently under prior permission category but not registered under the FCRA. This means that although these NGOs don’t hold a FCRA licence, they can accept funds from foreign sources by taking prior permission from the Ministry of Home Affairs.

The FCRA licences of around 16 NGOs were renewed by the Home Ministry under the “automatic” route and all the cases were reviewed thoroughly and except in two cases, 14 NGOs have been put under the prior permission category, while papers of two other NGOs are under examination.

As per FCRA, if an NGO is put under prior permission category, it is barred to receive foreign funding from abroad without taking permission from the Home Ministry.

With inputs from PTI

First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 19:12 IST

FCRA licences of seven NGOs cancelled

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Seven NGOs, including one run by activist Shabnam Hashmi, were barred by the government from receiving foreign funds after their FCRA licences were cancelled following alleged adverse intelligence reports against them. Registration under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) of Act Now for Harmony and Democracy (ANHAD), run by Hashmi, Marwar Muslim Education and Welfare Society, Gujarat-based Navsarjan Trust, Rural Development Research Centre, Ahmedabad, and three others were cancelled by the Home Ministry, official sources said.The decision has been taken after the Home Ministry conducted an inquiry into the functioning of the NGOs whose FCRA licences were renewed in the recent past. There were adverse intelligence inputs against the seven NGOs ranging from allegedly working against public interest by using foreign funds, painting the government as “anti- Dalit” abroad, besides others.FCRA licences of these seven NGOs were claimed to have been renewed “inadvertently” despite alleged unfavourable intelligence reports. When it was detected during the emergency audit, their registration were cancelled with immediate effect, sources said.Home Ministry has already initiated a security audit of its website to ascertain the possibility hacking and subsequent leak of data. A red-faced Home Ministry has seen a series of faux pas in the matter of NGOs. Only on Wednesday, it cancelled renewal of FCRA licence of Greenpeace India and two NGOs run by activist Teesta Setalvad – Sabrang Trust and Citizens for Justice and Peace – two months after “inadvertently” allowing their registration for five more years.The Ministry has also ordered a review of recent renewal of FCRA registration of 13,000 NGOs to look into the possible violation of existing rules. While licence of Greenpeace India and Sabrang Trust were cancelled by the government in the past, Citizens for Justice and Peace was put in prior permission category, thus preventing it from accepting foreign funds without government permission.Similar embarrassing moments were witnessed two months ago when there was a lapse in “automatic renewal” of the licence of Zakir Naik’s NGO — Islamic Research Foundation– leading to suspension of four officials including a Joint Secretary. The FCRA licence of IRF was later cancelled by the government permanently after declaring it as a terror outfit.

After ‘inadvertently’ renewing, MHA cancels Greenpeace and Teesta Setalvad’s NGOs’ licences

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a flip-flop, the Home Ministry on Wednesday cancelled renewal of FCRA licences of Greenpeace India and two NGOs run by activist Teesta Setalvad, three months after “inadvertently” renewing those for five years.It also ordered a probe to ascertain if the computer systems had been hacked due to which the licences were renewed “automatically”.Renewal of licences of Greenpeace India, Teesta’s NGOs Sabrang Trust and Citizens for Justice and Peace under Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) stands cancelled with immediate effect, a Home Ministry official said. The Ministry also ordered a review of recent renewal of FCRA registration of 13,000 NGOs to look into the possible violation of 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.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 licences of Greenpeace India, Sabrang Trust and Citizens for Justice and Peace stand “null and void” and they cannot receive foreign funds, the official said. Registration of these three NGOs was renewed for five years in September.While the licences of Greenpeace India and Sabrang Trust had been cancelled by the government in the past, Citizens for Justice and Peace was put in prior permission category, thus preventing it from receiving 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 — leading to suspension of four officials including a Joint Secretary. The FCRA licence of IRF was later cancelled by the government permanently after declaring it as a terror outfit. The three NGOs were accused of “prejudicially affecting public interest” of the country and violation of various provisions of FCRA.

FCRA licence of Teesta Setalvad’s NGO renewed by Home Ministry

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The FCRA licence of an NGO run by activist Teesta Setalvad has been renewed by the government notwithstanding restrictions imposed on it in receiving foreign donations.The registration of Citizen for Justice and Peace (CJP), run by Setalvad and her husband Javed Anand, under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, has been renewed, a Home Ministry official said. The renewal of FCRA registration of the CJP done despite it being under the prior permission category. Those NGOs, which are under prior permission category, have to take permission from the government before receiving foreign donations.CJP was under the scanner of Home Ministry for alleged misuse of grants to survivors of 2002 Gujarat riots following which it was put under the prior permission category by Home Ministry in July last year.Teesta is secretary of CJP and her two other NGOs Sabrang Trust and Sabrang Communications and Publishing Pvt Ltd are already under investigations by the CBI and Gujarat police. While Sabrang Trust’s FCRA licence was cancelled by the Home Ministry in June this year, Sabrang Communication is facing a CBI probe for receiving and allegedly misutilising the funds from Ford Foundation.Setalvad had denied all allegations while the Home Ministry has been maintaining that they had inspected the accounts of the CJP following a request from the Gujarat government last year.Interestingly, four Home Ministry officials, including a Joint Secretary, were suspended in August after renewal of an NGO run by controversial preacher Zakir Naik. Later, the FCRA licence of Naik’s NGO Islamic Research Foundation was cancelled by the Home Ministry for alleged violation of FCRA.

BJP, Congress withdraw appeal in foreign funding violation case from Supreme Court

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>BJP and Congress withdrew their respective appeals from the Supreme Court on Tuesday, wherein they had challenged the Delhi High Court verdict holding them prima facie guilty of violating the law on foreign funding. The counsel representing the political parties informed the apex court that in view of the 2010 amendment made in the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), they cannot be held liable for receiving alleged foreign funds in violation of the law.”The petitions are dismissed as withdrawn,” a bench comprising Justices JS Khehar, Arun Mishra and AM Khanwilkar said when senior advocates Shyam Divan and Kapil Sibal, representing BJP and Congress respectively, sought to withdrew the petitions.Divan said that the 2010 amendment in the FCRA provides that a contribution to a political party is not a foreign contribution if an Indian holds 50% or more shares in that firm. He further said that the Indian subsidiary of a company, registered in foreign country can donate funds and those donations cannot be regarded as foreign contribution in view of the changed law.Earlier, on November 22, Congress, which had challenged the Delhi HC verdict, sought time from the apex court to clarify the effect of the amendment brought this year to the FCRA in their matter.Congress had told the bench that amendment introduced in February this year has retrospective effect and their appeal against the Delhi High Court judgement has become infructuous. The amendment brought in the 2010 Act is aimed at easing the flow of donations from foreign companies in the name of corporate social responsibility.The high court, in its judgement pronounced on March 28, 2014, had said that by receiving donations from UK-based Vedanta Resources’ subsidiaries, the two mainstream political parties had violated the law concerned. It had also directed the Centre and Election Commission to take appropriate action against them within six months.Challenging the judgement, Congress had contended that the high court had erred in interpreting the law and “there is no concealment or suppression of such contribution which were duly reflected in the returns submitted to the Election Commission”.It had contended that Vedanta was owned by an Indian citizen, Anil Aggarwal, and its subsidiaries were incorporated here. Hence, they were not foreign sources. The high court had held that Vedanta was a foreign company as per the Companies Act and therefore, the Anil Aggarwal-owned firm and its subsidiaries, Sterlite and Sesa, were foreign sources as per the FCRA.The verdict was delivered on a PIL by a NGO, Association for Democratic Reforms and EAS Sarma, a former Secretary in the government, who had alleged that the two parties had violated the Representation of the People Act and FCRA by taking donations from government companies and foreign sources.

Zakir Naik’s NGO Islamic Research Foundation banned by govt for five years

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Union government on Tuesday decided to declare Islamic Research Foundation floated by preacher Zakir Naik an outlawed organisation under UAPA. It has been banned for five years. The cabinet meeting presided by PM Narendra Modi approved a proposal to declare Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) as an ‘unlawful association’ under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act for five years, a Home Ministry official said.The govt was tightening screws on IRF after it was revealed that one of the attackers involved in the Dhaka cafe attack was inspired by teleevangelist Zakir Naik’s preachings. On November 1, the writing was on the wall for Zakir Naik’s organisation when home ministry initiated cabinet note to declare controversial televangelist Zakir Naik’s NGO Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) as an unlawful association. It also revoked its Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) license and put its sister concern IRF Educational Trust (IRF-ET) under prior permission category.Investigations have found IRF guilty of promoting enmity and hatred between different religions and motivating youth to commit terrorist acts through hate speeches and having dubious money dealings with Peace Television, an international Islamic channel, accused of propagating terrorism. Besides Naik is also an accused of radicalising youth in almost half a dozen criminal cases.Despite various ongoing investigations, the ministry had inadvertently renewed the registration of IRF under the FCRA in September leading to suspension of a Joint Secretary and four other officials in the FCRA division of the home ministry.Maharashtra Police has also registered criminal cases against Naik for his alleged involvement in radicalisation of youths and luring them into terror activities, officials said.The Islamic orator is banned in the UK and Canada for his hate speech aimed against other religions. He is among 16 banned Islamic scholars in Malaysia. He is popular in Bangladesh through his Peace TV, although his preachings often demean other religions and even other Muslim sects. The Mumbai-based preacher who is abroad, has not returned to India ever since the controversy came to light.With agency and correspondent inputs

Delhi HC allows NGO to utilise funds in FCRA account

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Delhi High Court has allowed an NGO, whose registration to receive foreign funding was not renewed by the government, to continue using the funds already available in its FCRA account.Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva however made it clear that the NGO, Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF), would not be entitled to receive any fresh foreign contribution till the next date of hearing on November 31.”It is directed that till the next date of hearing, the registration of petitioner shall be deemed to continue for the purposes of withdrawal of money from the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) Account for utilisation in accordance with the Act.”However, petitioner would not be entitled to receive any fresh contribution in foreign exchange till the next date of hearing,” it said.INSAF is one of the over 11,000 NGOs which recently lost their foreign funding registration under FCRA after the Centre refused to renew them.The government had recently denied FCRA registration to 25 NGOs for being allegedly involved in anti-national activities and derecognised over 11,000 such organisations for failing to apply for renewal.In the instant case, Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain told the court that the action of non-renewal was taken based on intelligence inputs.He said he would place the relevant records before the court on the next date of hearing.The NGO in its plea has claimed the only communicated to it said “your application for renewal is refused”.It contended that due to non-renewal of its registration, it would neither be entitled to receive foreign contribution, nor utilise the funds already received and kept in the designated FCRA account and “all the money lying therein, for all practical purposes, would be frozen”.

Govt puts Zakir Naik’s NGO under prior permission list

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>IRF Educational Trust, promoted by controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, has been put under prior permission category, thus preventing it from receiving foreign funds without getting nod from the central government. In a gazette notification, the Home Ministry said that on the basis of records available and reports received from intelligence agencies, it found that the IRF Education Trust has violated various provisions of the Foreign Contribution Regulations Act (FCRA) 2010.”Now, therefore, the central government in exercise of powers conferred by sub-section (3) of section 11 of the FCRA 2010, hereby specifies that the IRF Education Trust shall obtain prior permission of the central government on each occasion before accepting any foreign contribution in accordance with the provisions of section 12 of the Act and rules made thereunder,” the notification said. The move came after different investigations found Naik to be “involved” in utilising funds meant for his NGOs for alleged radicalisation of youths and “inspiring” them into terror activities, official sources said. Government is also in the process of cancellation of the FCRA registration of Islamic Research Foundation, another NGO promoted Zakir Naik, and a final show cause notice to the organisation has already been issued.Interestingly, the IRF’s registration under the FCRA was renewed in September inadvertently despite multiple probes against Naik, leading to suspension of a Joint Secretary and four other officials in the Home Ministry.Government is also planning to declare IRF as an unlawful association under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and a nod from the Union Cabinet is awaited for it. According to a draft note, which is based on the inputs from Maharashtra Police, Naik, who heads the IRF and IRF Educational Trust, has allegedly made many provocative speeches and engaged in terror propaganda. Maharashtra Police has also registered criminal cases against Naik for his alleged involvement in radicalisation of youths and luring them into terror activities, a source said. Naik also transferred IRF’s foreign funds to Peace TV for making “objectionable” programmes. Most of the programmes, which were made in India, contained alleged hate speeches of Naik, who had reportedly “urged all Muslims to be terrorists” through Peace TV, sources have claimed. Naik came under the scanner of the security agencies after Bangladeshi newspaper ‘Daily Star’ reported that one of the perpetrators of the July 1 terror attack in Dhaka, Rohan Imtiaz, ran propaganda on Facebook last year quoting Naik. The Islamic orator is banned in the UK and Canada for his hate speech aimed against other religions. He is among 16 banned Islamic scholars in Malaysia.He had been popular in Bangladesh through his Peace TV, although his preachings often allegedly demean other religions and even other Muslim sects. The Mumbai-based preacher is currently abroad and has not returned to India ever since the controversy erupted.

FCRA licenses of over 11,000 NGOs cancelled

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The government on Friday canceled the license of over 11 thousand NGOs under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) for failing to apply for their renewal within the deadline. The validity of the FCRA registration of these NGOs had earlier been extended until of October 31st by a Home Ministry order of March this year.The NGOs, however, were required to submit applications for renewal of the registration by June 30th. The Home Ministry yesterday put out a list of all NGOs that failed to honour the deadline, stating that their license was deemed cancelled from first of this month.Now, they will not be able to receive contributions from foreign donors.

No more foreign funds for Zakir Naik’s NGO as MHA to revoke FCRA license

New Delhi: Islamic Research Foundation, promoted by controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, will soon be banned from receiving foreign funds with the Home Ministry initiating the process for cancellation of its FCRA registration by issuing a final show cause notice to the NGO.

The Home Ministry has also started the process for putting another NGO of Naik namely IRF Educational Trust in prior permission category, thus preventing it from receiving any foreign funds without getting nod from the government.

The move came after different investigations found Naik to be “involved” in utilising funds meant for the NGOs for alleged radicalisation of youths and “inspiring” them into terror activities, official sources said.

Interestingly, the IRF’s registration under the Foreign Contribution Regulations Act was renewed in September inadvertently despite multiple probes against Naik, leading to suspension of a Joint Secretary and four other officials in the Home Ministry.

A file photo of Zakir Naik. ReutersA file photo of Zakir Naik. Reuters

A file photo of Zakir Naik. Reuters

Government is also in the process of declaring IRF as an unlawful association under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and a nod from the Union Cabinet is awaited for it.

According to a draft note, which is based on the inputs from Maharashtra Police, Naik, who heads the IRF, has allegedly made many provocative speeches and engaged in terror propaganda.

Maharashtra Police has also registered criminal cases against Naik for his alleged involvement in radicalisation of youths and luring them into terror activities, a source said.

Naik also transferred IRF’s foreign funds to Peace TV for making “objectionable” programmes. Most of the programmes, which were made in India, contained alleged hate speeches of Naik, who had reportedly “urged all Muslims to be terrorists” through Peace TV, sources have claimed.

Naik came under the scanner of the security agencies after Bangladeshi newspaper ‘Daily Star’ reported that one of the perpetrators of the 1 July terror attack in Dhaka, Rohan Imtiaz, ran propaganda on Facebook last year quoting Naik.

The Islamic orator is banned in the UK and Canada for his hate speech aimed against other religions. He is among 16 banned Islamic scholars in Malaysia.

He had been popular in Bangladesh through his Peace TV, although his preachings often demean other religions and even other Muslim sects. The Mumbai-based preacher has not returned to India ever since the controversy erupted.

Nehru failed on Kashmir promise, says Gujarat Deputy CM Nitin Patel

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Taking a swipe at Congress, Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel on Monday claimed that the country’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru failed to fulfil his promise on Kashmir, giving rise to a perennial problem. Congress was quick to take exception. State Congress president Bharatsinh Solanki said Patel needed to take history lessons, and Kashmir was a part of India today only because of the Congress leadership of the past.”During Congress rule, there was a law under which Kashmir’s CM was referred to as Prime Minister of that state. Kashmir also had a separate flag other than the tricolour,” said Patel, addressing a government function in Gandhinagar.”Unfortunately, when the issue of Kashmir emerged, Nehru told everyone to leave it to him as he belonged to Kashmir and promised that he will annex it to India. But it never happened, as separatists did not accept Nehru’s idea. Even after 70 years, protests by separatists are on,” he said.Reacting to Patel’s remarks, Solanki contended that Kashmir became a part of India only because of the efforts of Congress and its past Prime Ministers Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi.”I feel that Patel needs to understand India’s history first. It is an indisputable fact that Kashmir became a part of India because of the efforts of Nehru and Congress. Contribution of Congress, Nehru, Shastri-ji, Indira-ji and Rajiv-ji helped India keep Kashmir,” he said.”If Rahul-ji (Rahul Gandhi) had been our PM today, the issue of Kashmir would have been solved long ago,” Solanki added.

Film piracy bigger issue than artistes’ ban: CBFC chief Pahlaj Nihalani

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The ban on Pakistan artistes is not the real issue. It’s not another film personality or a military man saying that, but the chief of Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) himself. In an exclusive interview to dna, CBFC chief Pahlaj Nihalani said that though there had been a ban on Bollywood films in Pakistan, the more pertinent issue was that of piracy of these films there.A ban had recently been placed by the Indian Motion Pictures Producers Association (IMPPA) on Pakistani actors and technicians from working in the Hindi-film industry, popularly known as Bollywood; post which, Pakistan too had put a ban on Bollywood films. The debate over the issue has left the Indian film industry divided.Talking to dna, Nihalani, who had earlier said that Bollywood would suffer losses by banning already-signed Pakistani artistes, said India doesn’t export films to Pakistan directly.“India exports films to Dubai, and Pakistan imports them from Dubai. Nearly 50 to 60 Bollywood hits are imported in a year by Pakistan from Dubai for its theatres. From there, Indian films are distributed in all other countries,” Nihalani said, adding that it is unfortunate that many Indian producers too, make a lot of money in the process.The CBFC chief claimed that Lahore is the hub of all pirated movies. “It is from there that CDs and DVDs of Bollywood films are distributed to other countries in an unauthorised manner,” Nihalani said.Nihalani admitted that to control the cross-border piracy of Hindi films is a daunting task. “On our part, we have put in place a few steps to minimise piracy of films, such as accepting in encrypted formats. But, the issue of cross-border piracy of films will have to be taken up at a higher level. However, it would be difficult, since there are a lot many hands involved in the distribution of the films,” he said.A 2010 report on the Economic Contribution of Indian Film and Television Industry by PricewaterhouseCoopers had stated the film industry was in fact significantly impacted by online piracy. In 2008, piracy cost the Indian film industry $959 million and about 5,71,000 jobs.A Motion Picture Distributors Association study had stated that India is among the top ten countries in the world which tops in online piracy, which is mainly carried out through file sharing networks to other countries such as the UAE and Pakistan.Nihalani also said that giving Pakistani artistes work visas is the Centre’s call, but he personally feels that no Pakistani citizen should be given a visa to India till the relationship between the two countries normalises. “India should deal in the same way with China since they are supporting Pakistan,” he said.“The entire focus has shifted to this ban issue. More than Pakistani actors going back to their country, the media should highlight the issue of terrorism and our soldiers are fighting at the border for all of us,” he said.On his part, he will soon be making a new video on “One mission, ending terrorism.” This will feature a patriotic song the lines of his earlier video on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Teesta Setalvad NGO issue – Not surprised by cancellation of FCRA, will seek legal advice: Javed Anand

Civil rights activist and husband of Teesta Setalvad, Javed Anand has said that he is not surprised about the cancellation FCRA license for their NGO Sabrang Trust. by the Home Ministry “We’re not at all surprised by this cancellation (FCRA license), only surprising thing is why they’ve taken so long. We wrote a long reply to their showcause notice where we challenged each one of allegations they made. We requested for a personal hearing to argue our case in further detail, what we got was hearing that didn’t even last ten-minute. We still did not deny any violation of FCRA rules by our NGO. We will seek legal advice and see how can we challenge this cancellation,” he added.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Home Ministry issued an order on Thursday evening saying that the central government has cancelled the permanent registration of trust with immediate effect. The government argued that the foreign funds received by the NGO under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) licence had not been used for the purposes meant. The order said that during inspection, the Home Ministry found that foreign contribution has been “frequently used” for items of “personal expenses eg for dining in hotels, food takeaways ordered at their residences, cakes and sweets from premium outlets, purchase of purely personal items like ear-buds, wet wipes, clippers, sanitary napkins by both Teesta and Anand, which have been reimbursed to the trustees from FCRA account.” The Sabrang Trust has spent an amount of Rs 50 lakh for Sabrang Communications & Publishing Pvt Limited (SCPPL), of which Teesta and Anand are working as directors, co-editors, printers and publisher, “clearly violating the mandate of the FCRA,” the MHA order said. “By this action, the NGO has not only unauthorisedly utilised the foreign contribution for the purposes of an unregistered entity but also that entity being a self-owned media and publication company, utilised that amount for activities totally prohibited by FCRA,” it added.The order said the NGO had transferred an amount of Rs 2.46 lakh from its foreign contribution designated account to Sabrang Trust domestic account, thus mixing of domestic and foreign funds and violating the rules.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 Anand respectively.The cards are issued in the name of the individuals and the above payments of the foreign contribution shall be treated to have been used for personal gain, the Home Ministry said.With agency inputs.

Centre cancels registration of Teesta Setalvad’s Sabrang Trust

After suspending FCRA (Foreign Contribution Regulation Act) licence of Teesta Setalvad’s NGO, Sabrang Trust, and issuing a show cause in September last year, the Union home ministry on Thursday finally cancelled its registration over alleged violations of the Act.The ministry said in a communication on Thursday, “it was noticed that the organisation received a total donation of Rs 48.42 lakh in 2010-11 and Rs 49.10 lakh in 2011-12, out of which it spent Rs 30.97 lakh and Rs 27.07 lakh during the two years respectively. This comes to 64.23% for 2010-11 and 55.14% for 2011-12 on administrative expenses.”<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>According to the ministry, as per section 8 (1) (b) of the FCRA, incurring expenses on administrative head exceeding 50% limit required the approval of the Home Ministry, thus making it violation of the Act.The Trust, run by Setalvad 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 Setalvad 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, the Central Bureau of Investigation has already registered a case and launched a probe against Sabrang Communication and Publishing Pvt Limited, a commercial firm run by Setalvad, for allegedly accepting and utilising foreign contribution in violation of FCRA.Setalvad pursued the cases of post-Godhra riots victims in Gujarat when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the chief minister of the state.

Indira Jaising is being targeted for taking up people’s cause, says Digvijaya Singh

New Delhi: Punitive action against lawyer Indira Jaising’s NGO Lawyers Collective shows the “intolerant” attitude of the government towards those championing people’s causes, Congress leader Digvijaya Singh said on Thursday.

“Indira Jaising, a senior advocate, is being targeted for fearlessly taking up people’s cause. Intolerance of Modi Sarkar,” Digvijaya Singh posted on Twitter. “Advocates would you please show some spine and stand up for her? You never know you may be the next!,” he said in another tweet.

The home ministry on Tuesday suspended for six months the registration under Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) of Lawyers Collective for alleged violations of foreign funding norms.

A former additional solicitor general, Jaising is the founder-secretary and her husband Anand Grover is the president of the Lawyers Collective.

Reacting to the government’s decision, Jaising posted on Twitter on Wednesday, “Condemn the beaten attack by government disguised as alleged violations of FCRA, days after I spoke at Rana Ayub book release.”

She was referring to Gujarat Files: The Anatomy of A Cover Up, a book on 2002 Gujarat riots, written by journalist Rana Ayyub.

From Greenpeace to Ford Foundation: Modi govt’s controversial crackdown on NGOs

As the Modi government completes two years at the Centre, one of the major criticisms it has drawn is in its handling of NGOs run by international bodies or funded by them in India.

On Wednesday, senior advocate and former Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Indira Jaising’s NGO, Lawyers Collective (LC) was served a notice suspending its FCRA registration for six months on Monday by the Home Ministry. This means that the association is now barred from receiving any foreign funds.

Jaising launched an attack on the government in a televised interview with NDTV. She termed the move as an “intimidating tactic by the government” to clamp down on her NGO. She further said that LC has not yet received a formal notice from the Centre, and that it has only been released to the press. She also pointed out that the first time the notice was mentioned in the press was the day Amit Shah had to appear in court in the Sohrabuddin murder case.

Jaising has actively protested against the decision of the court discharging Shah in the case.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh. ReutersHome Minister Rajnath Singh. Reuters

Home Minister Rajnath Singh. Reuters

The home ministry headed by Rajnath Singh has cracked down on a number of NGOs which have got foreign funding in the past couple of years, but controversy and criticism have marred many of his  ministry’s decisions.

In 2015, the government cancelled Greenpeace’s registration under Foreign Contribution Regulations Act (FCRA) for allegedly working against the country’s economic progress.

The decision of the home ministry came five months after it suspended its licence under FCRA for 180 days. It had also frozen its seven bank accounts, alleging that the environmental group was working against the country’s economic progress and public interest.

The government had cited alleged violation of norms by the NGO by opening five accounts to use foreign donations without informing the authorities concerned.

According to a report in The Indian Express, the report cites various incidents including protests against nuclear and coal power plants in the country, and also accuses the organisation of receiving foreign funding in violation of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act of 2010 (FCRA).

“It is assessed to be posing a potential threat to national economic security… growing exponentially in terms of reach, impact, volunteers and media influence,” it notes. The efforts are focused on “ways to create obstacles in India’s energy plans” and to “pressure India to use only renewable energy”, The Indian Express quotes the IB report as saying.

While suspending its registration under the FCRA, government had also said the NGO under-reported and repeatedly mentioned inaccurate amounts of its foreign contributions.

The government had cited alleged violation of norms by the NGO by opening five accounts to use foreign donations without informing the authorities concerned.

Greenpeace, however, maintained that it did not receive any funding from government bodies or corporates and relied only on individual contributions to fund their campaigns. It termed the government action as an attempt to “silence campaigns”.

In April 2015, the government placed the Ford Foundation, an American charitable organisation on a watch list saying it was funding groups which acted against the national interest.

“Among the violations noticed, it was found that the Ford Foundation had been involved in funding non-FCRA registered entities which amounts to serious violation of the FCRA 2010 law,” a home ministry spokesperson was quoted as saying.

On 15 April, the Gujarat government sought a probe into the role of activist Teesta Setalvad’s NGO alleging that it misused funds received from Ford Foundation to create ‘communal disharmony’.

“We learnt that the funds which they received, especially from the (US-based) Ford Foundation, were actually used for disturbing the communal harmony and carrying out anti-national propaganda against India in foreign countries,” Gujarat Minister of State for Home Rajnikant Patel told PTI. “We have written a letter to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh seeking probe into the role of Setalvad’s NGO (Sabrang Trust) after we found out funds given to the NGO were misused.”

“During the investigation of Gulberg Society museum funds embezzlement case, these things came to light,” Patel said. The Ford Foundation had given more than $500,000 to Setalvad’s NGO, he said.

Setalvad was pursuing legal cases against Modi, accusing him of failing to stop anti-Muslim rioting that killed at least 1,000 people when he was chief minister of Gujarat. Modi denied the charges and was exonerated in a Special Investigation Team (SIT) inquiry in 2012.

A top official at the charity had said the fallout has hit projects that fight child marriage, provide clean water in slums and feed pregnant women.

Around the same time, the government placed the Catholic charity Caritas on a government watch list. The group has been operating in India for more than 50 years and works on health, education and poverty-related issues. A home ministry official told AFP that Caritas had violated India’s foreign funding laws by financing groups that were working “against the country”.

The government in all cancelled the foreign funding licences of nearly 9,000 charities last year.

The Prime Minister has criticised what he calls “five-star activists” and a government intelligence report in 2014 reportedly said they were working with foreign powers to undermine India’s economic growth.

With inputs from agencies.

FCRA row: Ex-ASG Indira Jaising claims victimisation for fighting cases against govt

New Delhi: Eminent lawyer Indira Jaising on Wednesday termed the suspension of licence of her NGO as a “blatant attempt to victimise” the organisation and an “act of vindictiveness” on the part of the NDA government.

The response came after the Home Ministry barred the NGO – Lawyers’ Collective – from receiving funds from abroad and suspended its licence for six months for alleged violation of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA).

Noted lawyer Indira Jaising Twitter @ IJaising

Noted lawyer Indira Jaising Twitter @ IJaising

“The Lawyers’ Collective condemns the blatant attempt of the government of India to victimise the organisation and its office bearers Indira Jaising and Anand Grover. This is noting but a gross misuse of the FCRA Act which is being used to suppress any form of dissent.

“It is far too well know that both Anand Grover and Indira Jaising have represented several persons in their professional capacity as lawyers in several cases against the government and the functionaries including the President of the BJP party, Amit Shah protesting his discharge in the Sohrabuddin murder case,” the NGO said in a statement.

The Home Ministry’s order/show cause notice is a mala fide act and an act of vindictiveness on the part of the government, it said.

“This is being done because of the cases that Lawyers Collective (‘LC’) and its trustees, Indira Jaising and Anand Grover, are involved in, including but are not limited to Sanjiv Bhatt, Yakub Memon and Priya Pillai,” the statement said.

The association accused the government of leaking the notice suspending the NGO’s licence to media.

“The aim is to destroy the credibility of LC by leaking it to the media, before even serving it on LC. LC till today has not received the order purportedly issued on May, 31 2016, though it is available to the press,” it said.

The Lawyers’ Collective intends to challenge the order as unconstitutional and required to be set aside, the statement said.

“At the outset, LC states that all the foreign contribution received were spent for the purposes received and accounted for,” it said.

The Home Ministry, while suspending the licence, asked the NGO to submit its reply within 30 days.

Teesta Setalvad files: Court extends CBI custody of MHA official Anand Joshi

A special court extended the CBI custody of MHA official Anand Joshi till May 24 for allegedly issuing FCRA notices arbitrarily to several NGOs for financial gains after the agency said it needed to interrogate him in connection with some files seized during the probe. Special CBI Judge Anju Bajaj Chandna allowed the agency’s plea in which it was mentioned that seven new files have been recovered during the investigation and the accused is also required to be confronted in relation to certain emails sent to private persons and properties in the name of his wife.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”After considering the submissions, I am of the considered opinion that for the purpose of thorough investigation, the remand be extended till May 24,” the judge said.The agency’s plea was opposed by Joshi’s counsel who said that CBI has already got enough time.He said that Joshi had cooperated in the interrogation earlier and five days were enough to investigate the matter.During the hearing, the accused told the court that he was “mentally depressed” after which the judge ordered his medical examination today.Joshi, who was arrested from west Delhi on May 15, was produced in court after expiry of CBI custody.CBI had earlier claimed that the files relating to several NGOs had gone missing from Home Ministry and they were recovered from his house although he was not supposed to take them away.It had alleged that Joshi had been issuing notices dishonestly to a large number of NGOs/societies registered under the FCRA (Foreign Contribution Regulation Act) 2010, which have been receiving significant amount of foreign contributions, in an arbitrary manner.It has said some of these organisations are Care India, Snehalya Charitable Trust, Indian HIV/AIDS Alliance and All India Primary Teachers Federation and alleged that the representatives of some of these organisations were called and Joshi demanded and obtained illegal gratification. Joshi, who had disappeared last week from his home in Indirapuram in Ghaziabad, was picked up from Tilak Nagar area of West Delhi on Sunday and taken to the CBI headquarters for questioning. Subsequently, he was arrested by the agency. Joshi has rejected the charge and instead accused his seniors of pressuring him to give a clean chit to NGOs. In a note which he had left before leaving home, Joshi claimed he had been subjected to “mental harassment” in recent months.CBI had alleged that Joshi laundered ill-gotten earnings in various immovable assets as well as certain private firms which were floated by him and his wife was one of the directors in them.It alleged even after his transfer from FCRA division, he continued to indulge in corrupt activities on the basis of documents which were in his possession unauthorisedly.The agency claimed that during the search conducted at Joshi’s house, one file pertaining to FCRA which pertains to private NGO Care India Solutions for Sustainable Development has been seized and his interrogation was needed to know as to how the official files made way in his house and what was his intention in bringing them.The matter came to light after files pertaining to alleged FCRA violations by two NGOs run by Setalvad went missing from the Home Ministry. The files were traced and restored to the FCRA division but CBI was asked to investigate the matter.It was noticed that the files had gone missing when the Home Ministry took a decision to cancel FCRA registration of one of Setalvad’s NGOs, Sabrang Trust, sources had said. Joshi was arrested on May 15 after he allegedly gave unconvincing answers to the questions posed by a team of Special Crime division of the CBI, including those related to disappearance of files related to Sabrang Trust of activist Teesta Setalvad.

Home ministry official remanded to police custody

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) alleges that non-government organisations (NGOs) like Care India, Snehalaya Charitable Trust, All India Primary Teachers Federation (AIPTF) and Indian HIV/AIDS Alliance among others were targeted for bribes by Anand Joshi, the home ministry official.The CBI further alleged that Joshi was laundering the ill-gotten gains in various numerous immovable assets and through companies like M/s Sreejak Media Pvt. Ltd, M/s Sreejak Radio Media Pvt. Ltd. and M/s Sreejak Outdoor Media Ltd. Which were floated by him. It has also come to light that Joshi’s wife Meenakshi, is a director in one of the firms.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Joshi was arrested by CBI officials on Sunday evening, four days after he went missing, and was produced in the special CBI court at Patiala House on Monday. Special Judge Vinod Kumar has remanded Joshi to CBI custody till May 20.In its application, the CBI has stated that the investigation against Joshi has faced many hurdles. “The search was conducted at the Joshi’s house after a lot of harship,” the CBI told the court. “Various incriminating documents including files of Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 (FCRA), MHA, and Directorate of Advertising & Visual Publicity, Min. Of Information and Broadcasting were seized from the residences of Joshi for which the accused had no satisfactory answers,” the CBI further alleged.CBI Senior Public Prosecutor informed the court, that the probe agency wanted custody of Joshi to investigate the matter in detail. The custody plea was opposed by Neeraj Gupta, representing Joshi who argued that his client was co-operating with the probe agency. Gupta further submitted and prayed for leniency stating that Joshi and his wife were suffering from depression.Gupta rubbished CBI claims that Joshi had switched off his phone between May 11 – May 15 stating that his client had lost his phone in Ujjain, where he was attending the Kumbh Mela on May 8.The home ministry official, who had disappeared four days ago after his Ghaziabad residence was raided by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), was detained by the agency on Sunday evening, in connection with a case of alleged issuance of arbitrary notices to NGOs and societies, under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), for financial gains. Social activist Teesta Setalvad’s NGO, Sabrang Trust, was also allegedly targeted by Anand Joshi.

Teesta Setalvad files: Missing MHA officer Anand Joshi found, detained

A home ministry official, who had disappeared four days ago after his Ghaziabad residence was raided by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), was detained by the agency on Sunday evening, in connection with a case of alleged issuance of arbitrary notices to NGOs and societies, under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), for financial gains. Social activist Teesta Setalvad’s NGO, Sabrang Trust, was also allegedly targeted by Anand Joshi.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Joshi, an under secretary in the ministry of home affairs (MHA), was nabbed by officials in the Tilak Nagar area, CBI sources said. “Joshi’s movements were being monitored ever since he went missing on Wednesday morning. He is currently being questioned at the CBI headquarters,” said CBI sources.Joshi, a resident in the Media times apartment in Indirapuram area of Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, went missing after the CBI issued him a notice for summons. Joshi failed to answer the summons after which a second notice was further issued.Joshi, who was recently posted in the foreigners’ division, had access to files relating to the FCRA. According to MHA officials, Joshi was under the scanner for several months. The CBI was informed after MHA officials ascertained that Joshi was taking bribes.On Monday, the CBI filed a case against Joshi for allegedly indulging in corrupt activities and arbitrarily issuing notices to non-governmental organisations (NGO) and societies receiving significant amount of foreign currency. The MHA official was allegedly demanding illegal gratification from some organisations which were laundered through immovable assets and private companies. In searches conducted at four locations including Joshi’s residence and office almost Rs 7.5 lakh was recovered and files from the MHA and ministry of information and broadcasting (I&B) were found.The missing files pertaining to the Sabrang Trust were also recovered from Joshi’s residence.In a statement released by the Sabrang Trust, Setalvad clarified they have not committed any violation of FCRA norms. “The ‘order’ dated September 9, 2015, suspending FCRA registration for 180 days had been arrived in an arbitrary manner without application of mind,” the statement read. Setalvad went on to confirm that Joshi was not part of the four-member team that inspected their offices. However, the NGO received an official communication from Joshi dated June 4, 2015, that made certain “observations” concerning alleged violations of FCRA, 2010 and FCR rules, 2011.The CBI has registered a case under sections 13(2) read with 13(1) of the Prevention of Corruption Act and section 120b of the Indian Penal Code.

Ishrat Jahan row: Home ministry asks panel to finish work by 31 May

New Delhi: A one-man inquiry committee of the Home Ministry, probing the missing files case related to the alleged fake encounter of Ishrat Jahan, has been asked to expedite its work and finish the task by 31 May.

Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi is said to have told Additional Secretary in the Home Ministry BK Prasad to speed up the probe and submit his report by the end of this month.

Prasad, a Tamil Nadu cadre IAS officer, is retiring on 31 May and the government wants the task given to him to be completed before his service comes to an end, official sources said.

Ishrat Jahan. File photo. PTIIshrat Jahan. File photo. PTI

Ishrat Jahan. File photo. PTI

Prasad is also embroiled in a controversy after an under secretary serving in the Home Ministry’s Foreigners Division accused him of pressuring him (the junior officer) of giving clean chit to Ford Foundation, which allegedly violated provisions of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act. Prasad has denied the allegation.

Top Home Ministry officials are of the opinion that the Ishrat-related files were misplaced and could be found if a concerted effort is made.

Government seems to be unhappy over the delay in finding the files and wants a quick report and Prasad has been told this in clear terms, the sources said.

The panel, constituted on 14 March following an uproar in Parliament, was asked to inquire into the circumstances in which the files related to the case of Ishrat, who was killed in the alleged fake encounter in Gujarat in 2004, went missing.

It was asked to find out the person responsible for keeping the files and relevant issues.

The papers which went missing from the Home Ministry include the copy of an affidavit vetted by the Attorney General and submitted in the Gujarat High Court in 2009 and the draft of the second affidavit vetted by the AG on which changes were made.

Two letters written by the then Home Secretary GK Pillai to the then Attorney General late GE Vahanvati and the copy of the draft affidavit have so far been untraceable.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh had disclosed in Parliament on March 10 that the files were missing.

The first affidavit was filed on the basis of inputs from Maharashtra and Gujarat Police besides the Intelligence Bureau where it was said the 19-year-old girl from Mumbai outskirts was a Lashkar-e-Taiba activist but it was ignored in the second affidavit, Home Ministry officials said.

The second affidavit, claimed to have been drafted by the then Home Minister P Chidambaram, said there was no conclusive evidence to prove that Ishrat was a terrorist, the officials said.

Ishrat Jahan case: MHA panel asked to complete missing files probe before May 31

A one-man inquiry committee of the Home Ministry, probing the missing files case related to the alleged fake encounter of Ishrat Jahan, has been asked to expedite its work and finish the task by May 31.Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi is said to have told Additional Secretary in the Home Ministry B K Prasad to speed up the probe and submit his report by the end of this month. Prasad, a Tamil Nadu cadre IAS officer, is retiring on May 31 and the government wants the task given to him to be completed before his service comes to an end, official sources said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prasad is also embroiled in a controversy after an Under Secretary serving in the Home Ministry’s Foreigners Division accused him of pressuring him (the junior officer) of giving clean chit to Ford Foundation, which allegedly violated provisions of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act. Prasad has denied the allegation.Top Home Ministry officials are of the opinion that the Ishrat-related files were misplaced and could be found if a concerted effort is made. Government seems to be unhappy over the delay in finding the files and wants a quick report and Prasad has been told this in clear terms, the sources said.The panel, constituted on March 14 following an uproar in Parliament, was asked to inquire into the circumstances in which the files related to the case of Ishrat, who was killed in the alleged fake encounter in Gujarat in 2004, went missing. It was asked to find out the person responsible for keeping the files and relevant issues.The papers which went missing from the Home Ministry include the copy of an affidavit vetted by the Attorney General and submitted in the Gujarat High Court in 2009 and the draft of the second affidavit vetted by the AG on which changes were made.Two letters written by the then Home Secretary G K Pillai to the then Attorney General late G E Vahanvati and the copy of the draft affidavit have so far been untraceable.

MHA under secretary Anand Joshi goes missing before CBI questioning

The family members of Anand Joshi, presently under the CBI scanner for allegedly indulging in corrupt practices and arbitrarily issuing notices to many NGOs, demanded that action must be initiated against B.K. Prasad, the additional secretary of Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), of pressuring him to favour some organizations. ‘Till 2 a.m. we were together. When we woke up this morning, he wasn’t there. He was suffering from depression from the last two to three years,’ said Joshi’s wife Minakshi. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>’We never had any kind of enmity with anyone. The CBI probe was done earlier yesterday. Investigation must be done against B. K. Prasad,’ she added. Minakshi further said that she found her husband’s letter on the bed.Joshi, who was to be questioned by the CBI in connection with a corruption case, is missing from home. He has left an emotional letter for his family in which he claims to be subjected to mental harassment.In a moving appeal to his wife, Joshi asked her to take care of their children and assume the role of both parents, as he is leaving home in search of peace. “I am leaving home. Please do not look for me. Now, you (his wife) have to take care of kids by becoming both father and mother,” he said in the letter. Joshi, who stands accused of corruption and murky dealings with certain NGOs, further said that he had never imagined that his ‘patriotism’ and integrity would lead to such a situation wherein he has been accused of corruption.”Probably, my patriotism became my biggest enemy. I am saddened at leaving you all, but I am not able to handle myself,” he added. Meanwhile, the CBI has denied harassing Joshi, stating that raids and searches were carried out as part of the investigation. Posted in the MHA’s Foreigners Division, Joshi reportedly had access to files related to Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA). He is accused of accepting bribes for getting FCRA clearances done. Joshi has, however, refuted the charges, saying he was ‘pressurised’ by his superiors to give clean chit to some organisations. The CBI had on Monday registered case against the Under Secretary under Section 120-B of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Prevention of Corruption Act after conducting raids at four locations, including Joshi’s residence and office.The CBI had said that cash worth Rs. 7.5 lakh and certain ‘incriminating documents’, including files pertaining to THE MHA and Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, were recovered from the premises of the officer during the raid.

AAP demands Supreme Court-monitored probe into Panama Paper leaks

The Aam Aadmi Party on Monday demanded a Supreme Court-monitored SIT probe into the cases of Indians named in the leaked ‘Panama papers’ saying the BJP-headed government at the Centre will not ensure a fair investigation.The party accused the government of “failing” to take any substantial action on the black money front in the last two years despite several such leaks and cited the ‘Swiss leaks’ and the HSBC-list to make its case.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Senior AAP leader Sanjay Singh claimed that the documents at the centre of the investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) “establishes” that people close to the government stashed black money abroad. “We demand a Supreme Court-monitored time-bound investigation into the case. It’s a straight case of black money. And any hope of a fair probe by the government is very low considering the names involved,” Singh told reporters. AAP spokesperson Raghav Chadha hit out at the government for proposing changes in the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010. The proposed amendments are aimed at “saving BJP and Congress,” he said. “If the amendments are passed then foreign companies will flood the parties with funds and virtually dictate their agendas which will be against the country’s interest,” Chadha said. Chadha claimed that two low-level political functionaries reportedly named in the Panama Papers belonged to BJP.Meanwhile, Swaraj Abhiyan leader and activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan tweeted: “Would people with legit funds hide them in secret companies registered in Tax Havens? Most must be illegal. Will it be pursued (sic).””Had told PM in 6/14 (June 2014) that owners of funds from Tax Haven Cos must be unmasked. Does PM want Make In India from laundered money?(sic)” Bhushan said in another tweet.

AAP demands withdrawal of amendment to FCRA

AAP on Saturday demanded immediate withdrawal of the change proposed in Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act by the Centre and accused Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley of trying to “bail out” BJP and Congress from facing imminent action for having accepted foreign funds.”The amendment proposed with retrospective effect in the FCRA by Jaitley when he moved the finance bill on 29th February, which has now been exposed by the media, is illegal and a clear attempt to subvert justice, since the Delhi High Court had in March 2014 held both the BJP and Congress guilty of having accepted foreign funds. Further, the Supreme Court has so far refused to stay the Delhi High Court judgment, even two years after BJP and Congress were found guilty of having taken foreign funds,” the party said in a statement.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The party added that Jaitley’s “desperate move to quietly” amend the FCRA is one of the worst examples of political opportunism which is clearly aimed at saving BJP and Congress from the action sought against these two parties by the Election Commission.”It is extremely shocking that Jaitley is trying to change the definition of a foreign company to bail out his own political party,” the statement said.It said the move will encourage flow of black money and appealed to non-BJP non-Congress parties to come together to oppose it.”This development will encourage black money in politics and will further harm the country’s democracy, if this FCRA amendment is allowed to be passed in Parliament. The AAP appeals to all the non-BJP non-Congress parties to ensure the defeat of this amendment in Parliament and expose the unholy nexus of these two parties, which do not want transparency in political funding,” the party said.

You’re precious to us, can’t withdraw security: Fadnavis to Anna Hazare

Lavishing praise on Anna Hazare for his contribution to society, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said he cannot withdraw his security cover after the social activist questioned the protection assigned to him.In a letter to Hazare, Fadnavis also apologised to him for any “lapses” in the security cover provided to him.Describing Hazare as a “sage-like personality”, he said the social activist had done a lot for society and his life was precious. “I can’t withdraw your security cover,” the CM wrote. Hazare, who has been given ‘Z’ category security cover, had recently alleged that the security personnel assigned to him were lax in their duty. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>At the same time, he had said the government need not upgrade his security and that he won’t blame it if something untoward were to happen to him. Hazare said it was not easy to support a retinue of nine bodyguards and 28 police personnel at Ralegan Siddhi village. He had said many a times those tasked with his security weren’t there or come late when he is doing his morning yoga exercise.”They are also engrossed in their mobile phones and busy chatting. They won’t even realise if someone were to walk in and kill me,” he had said. The anti-corruption crusader had said that increasing his security would put a financial burden on the state. Hazare’s statement had come after several threat letters were sent to him last year.

Cooperate with probe or face arrest: SC tells Teesta Setalvad

The Supreme Court on Thursday extended the interim bail of social activists Teesta Setalvad and her husband till March 18 but asked them to cooperate in the probe in two criminal cases of alleged embezzlement of funds and the foreign contribution law lodged by Gujarat Police and CBI.CBI and the state police told a bench headed by Justice A R Dave that Teesta was not cooperating with the investigation and the couple was also not supplying relevant documents relating to how the funds were spent.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While Gujarat police is probing the alleged embezzlement of funds for a museum at Ahmedabad’s Gulbarg Society that was devastated in the 2002 riots, the CBI is investigating the purported violations of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) in connection with the utilisation of funds received from Ford Foundation by Sabrang Communications and Publishing Pvt Ltd, run by the couple.The submissions of Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar and senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani on behalf of CBI and the state police respectively was refuted by senior advocate Kapil Sibal and Kamini Jaiswal, who said the allegation of non- cooperation was being made against Teesta and her husband Javed Anand as the probe was not suiting the investigators.Taking note of submissions of both sides, the bench, also comprising Justices F M I Kalifulla and V Gopala Gowda, directed Teesta and Javed that if they have not supplied the relevant documents relating to the embezzlement case to Gujarat Police in accordance with the list provided to them by investigators, they would “furnish those documents as soon as possible and preferably within two weeks.”In the FCRA case, the bench asked the couple to file an affidavit within two weeks explaining their stand on the issue of utilisation of funds procured by Sabrang and posted both the cases for hearing on March 9.At the outset, both CBI and the state police alleged that they were not getting cooperation from Teesta in their probe and the matter of anticipatory bail has been pending for almost a year.”They are not special accused,” Jethmalani said while seeking for early hearing of the matter. He said the couple also filed an application on May 6, 2015 in the pending anticipatory bail matter seeking to know the “scope of investigation.”Taking note of the submission, the bench orally observed “we will pass an appropriate order giving time for supply of documents and if the order is not complied with, we can even vacate our order (granting anticipatory bail).”

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