Govt unlikely to grant permission for Amnesty to set up South Asian hub in India

Govt unlikely to grant permission for Amnesty to set up South Asian hub in India

Govt unlikely to grant permission for Amnesty to set up South Asian hub in India

The government is unlikely to grant permission to Amnesty International, slapped with charge of sedition for hosting an event where anti-India slogans were allegedly raised, for opening a hub in India to look after its operations in South Asia.

The authorities have also decided to ask Amnesty India to get itself registered under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) after a preliminary inquiry found the organisation had "bypassed" laws while accepting foreign funds in the last 16 years.

The Amnesty International had in 2014 and 2015 issued statements to the media making it clear that it would not register under the FCRA, which it described as "much-abused".

"The act was, and is, a much-abused law, and NGOs have experienced the unfairness of it both in the bureaucratic sense of inordinate delays and in the more overt sense of it being used too often to curb the freedom of expression of NGOs, especially those that work on the issues that hold up the mirror and demand accountability from the powers that be," it had said.

The Amnesty has registered a non-profit organisation in the name of Amnesty International South Asia Foundation on May 8, 2015.

Soon after, it sought the government's permission to open a hub to look after its activities in South Asia, excluding India, and wanted to bring in foreign funds to the tune of Rs 18,61,92,688 under the prior permission category for its operations.

"The application (for setting up the hub) is under examination and in all likelihood we are going to deny the permission as we have found that the NGO has been getting foreign funds without registering under FCRA, thus bypassing laws," a senior Home Ministry official said.

During preliminary inquiry, the official said, the Home Ministry found that the NGO received Great Britain Pound (GBP) 3,52,057 (Rs 3,09,35,248) and Rs 2,23,99,226 in four separate instalments since 2000 without having registered under the FCRA.

"All NGOs whose expenses are Rs 10 lakh or more in three preceding years have to register under the FCRA. But the Amnesty has not applied for FCRA registration yet.

We are going to tell them to register under the FCRA first," the official said.

At the Bengaluru event organised by the Amnesty on Saturday, anti-India slogans were allegedly raised during a discussion on Kashmir, prompting the authorities to book the NGO under various IPC sections including sedition.

Amnesty, on its part, has rejected as "without substance" the allegations made by ABVP, the students wing of RSS, which had also filed a police complaint in connection with the event and submitted a CD of the proceedings, and claimed that none of its employees shouted any anti-India slogans at any point. 

On December 19, 2000, the Amnesty India was granted permission for the first time to bring GBP 1,30,629 and again on November 14, 2003, GBP 2,21,428 under prior permission category.

The Home Ministry granted permission again to Amnesty to receive Rs 54,40,000 on July 14, 2009 and it received foreign funds of Rs 1,69,59,226 on March 28, 2012.

However, Amnesty India's applications on March 29, 2010 to allow it to receive Rs 32,72,000 and for Rs 1,69,59,226 on November 2, 2012 had been rejected by the Home Ministry. Two other such applications for receiving of Rs 2,65,76,204 and Rs 80,00,000 were also rejected by the Ministry on November 9, 2012 and March 19, 2013 respectively.

"We have denied the three applications as we have found that Amnesty India's expenditure in preceding three years were more than Rs 10 lakh and the NGO has not registered under the FCRA, besides (there are) some other issues," the official said. 

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