In a surprise move, the union home ministry has renewed the FCRA or foreign contribution regulation account licence of activist Teesta Setalvad’s NGO, Citizen for Justice and Peace (CJP). The non-government organisation (NGO) run by Setalvad and her husband Javed Anand was under the scanner for alleged misuse of grants to survivors of 2002 Gujarat riots following which it was put under the prior permission category by MHA in July last year.
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Interestingly, the renewed licence did not mention whether the NGO is still under the prior permission (PP) category. Under the PP category, an NGO cannot accept funds from any donor and needs to seek clearance from the home ministry each time. Speaking to The Indian Express, the main trustee of CJP, Javed Anand, confirmed, “We have received the renewal licence for CJP and there is no mention that the trust is under PP category anymore.”
Anand also said that the NGO had applied for the renewal of the licence early this year and provided MHA with all the necessary documents as required. Teesta is secretary of CJP and her two other NGOs — Sabrang Trust and Sabrang Communications & Publishing Pvt. Ltd — are already under investigations by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Gujarat police, said officials.
While Sabrang Trust’s FCRA licence was cancelled by MHA in June this year, Sabrang Communication is facing a CBI probe for receiving and allegedly misutilising the funds from Ford Foundation. Setalvad had denied the allegation and said in a press statement, “Sabrang Trust will explore legal options to challenge the cancellation of its FCRA licence.”
MHA said they had inspected the accounts of the CJP following a request from the Gujarat government last year after which they were put under the PP category. However, the decision to renew Setalvad’s NGO was taken at a senior level in the home ministry unlike automatic renewal of evangelist Zakir Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) in August this year. It may be recalled that four home ministry official, including the joint secretary heading the division, were put under suspension following Naik’s NGOs renewal.
In Setalvad’s NGO Sabrang Trust, a junior officer in MHA, Anand Joshi, was placed under suspension and later arrested by CBI for walking away with the files pertaining to the NGO in January this year. Later, MHA held Sabrang Trust guilty on six counts.
MHA had then alleged that Sabrang Trust transferred Rs 50 lakh to Sabrang Communication where Setalvad and Anand are directors. Its order stated that this transfer “seems to be used for personal gains”. Sabrang Trust had transferred donation money to various bank accounts for settling credit card dues of Setalvad and Anand, according to the MHA order.
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