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Zakir Naik’s Foundation: FCRA licence was renewed even as MHA flagged NGO

Under the “prior permission” category, it is mandatory for an organisation to take the home ministry’s permission before accepting or utilising any foreign contribution.

Written by Sagnik Chowdhury | New Delhi |
Updated: September 6, 2016 12:02:14 am
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WHILE THE FCRA (Foreign Contribution Regulation Act) registration of controversial televangelist Zakir Naik’s NGO Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) was renewed through an automatic online system on August 19, despite an ongoing probe against him, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had already decided to place IRF under the “prior permission” category. A proposal to this effect was being vetted by the law ministry when the NGO’s registration got renewed, sources said.

Under the “prior permission” category, it is mandatory for an organisation to take the home ministry’s permission before accepting or utilising any foreign contribution.

After it emerged last Thursday that IRF’s FCRA registration was renewed by the home ministry, three MHA officials — Under Secretaries Ipsita Saha Paul and Deepak Kumar and Section Officer Usha Bhangu — were suspended for negligence, while a data entry operator, Shyam Babu Kumar Manjhi, was removed.

Joint Secretary (Foreigners) G K Dwivedi was also suspended, prompting four JS-rank colleagues in the home ministry to come out in his support. The four joint secretaries met Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi on Saturday and told him that Dwivedi’s suspension was “harsh” and “demoralising”.

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A departmental inquiry by Secretary (border management) Susheel Kumar has been initiated to ascertain how IRF’s FCRA registration was renewed. Meanwhile, JS (border management) Mukesh Mittal has replaced Dwivedi at the post of JS (foreigners).

According to sources, during the period that IRF’s FCRA registration was renewed, Dwivedi had already decided to place the NGO under the “prior permission” category. A proposal was sent to the Additional Solicitor General in this regard, which was being vetted.

“Besides proposing to place IRF under the prior permission category, in July this year, Dwivedi noticed certain lapses in the manner in which IRF’s file was dealt with between 2013 and 2015. He had then initiated disciplinary action against four officials. The joint secretary got reports from the IB, state government and the Internal Security-1 division in the MHA, on the basis of which a standard questionnaire for initiating the process of inquiry was sent to IRF on August 8,” said a home ministry source.

While the FCRA registration and renewal process is currently done online, sources said Dwivedi had written to the National Informatics Centre to introduce a system whereby red flags would be automatically raised in the case of applications from NGOs which were facing probe.

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