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FCRA nod for ‘bribes’: CBI questions MHA staff, searches 40 locations

“Around half a dozen public servants and others are being questioned. During searches so far, transactions of around Rs 2 crore through hawala channels have been found,” a CBI officer said.

Written by Deeptiman Tiwary | New Delhi |
Updated: May 11, 2022 7:15:43 am
The CBI, which was directed by the Calcutta High Court to take up post-poll violence cases, started a probe into this particular incident of violence.

In a nationwide crackdown on alleged corruption in the Foreigners Division of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), the CBI on Tuesday conducted searches at 40 locations across the country and is currently questioning six MHA officials for allegedly giving clearance to certain NGOs in lieu of bribes.

A CBI spokesperson said the searches were conducted in Delhi, Rajasthan, Chennai, Hyderabad, Coimbatore, and Mysuru, among others, “to nab representatives of NGOs, middlemen and public servants of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) division of MHA for committing violations of FCRA provisions and facilitating illegal clearances in lieu of bribes.”

CBI sources claimed some of the accused, including public servants, have been apprehended while exchanging bribes. “Around half a dozen public servants and others are being questioned. During searches so far, transactions of around Rs 2 crore through hawala channels have been found,” a CBI officer said.

The FCRA department of the Ministry of Home Affairs is part of the Foreigners Division of the Ministry and is responsible for granting permission to NGOs under the FCRA to receive funds from abroad. It is also responsible for cancellation of the registration in case they are found violating the law.

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Last month, the division had cancelled the FCRA registration of international NGO Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), along with some other NGOs engaged with Christian evangelism, for violating provisions of the FCRA.

“The agency has registered an FIR based on a complaint from MHA about corruption in its ranks in the FCRA division. The complaint was received a few days back and after verification, a case has been registered,” a CBI officer said.

Sources said the agency is likely to put some MHA officials under arrest. “There are people who have been caught red-handed accepting bribes. If the need arises, people will be arrested,” an officer said.

There are 16,890 NGOs registered with the MHA under the FCRA. In the past decade or so, the government has cancelled the registration of 20,679 NGOs for various violations of FCRA. As many as 12,540 FCRA registrations have been deemed to have expired following failure of NGOs to file renewal applications on time, or MHA refusing to renew their registration following adverse inquiry reports.

On December 25 last year, the MHA had refused the renewal application of Mother Teresa’s NGO Missionaries of Charity (MoC), based on “adverse reports” about the NGO. The NGO has earlier been accused by BJP leaders and Sangh Parivar affiliates of involvement in religious conversion.

The government, however, restored the NGO’s registration later. Since November last year, the government has refused registration renewal of 6,000 NGOs, claiming that 5,800 of them did not apply.

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