Norms relaxed for farmer, student, religious and other groups not involved in ‘active politics’.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has relaxed norms for farmer, student, religious and other groups who are not directly aligned to any political party to receive foreign funds if the groups are not involved in “active politics”.The Ministry notified new rules under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), 2010 on Wednesday thereby amending the FCRA Rules, 2011.The new rule said, “The organisations specified under clauses (v) and (vi) of sub-rule (1) shall be considered to be of political nature, if they participate in active politics or party politics, as the case may be.”The 2011 rules on said clauses dealt with “guidelines for the declaration of an organisation to be of a political nature, not being a political party”, and the Central government could specify an organisation as that of political nature based on six criteria.‘Political group’Clause V of Rule 3 (FCRA 2011) qualified a political group as, “organisations of farmers, workers, students, youths based on caste, community , religion, language or otherwise, which is not directly aligned to any political party, but whose objectives as stated in the memorandum of association, or activities gathered through other material evidence, include steps towards advancement of political interests of such groups”.
The other 2011 clause (VI) qualified a group as political if the “organisation by whatever name called habitually engages itself in or employs common methods of political action like rasta roko, jail bharo, rail roko, bandh or hartal in support of public causes”. A new clause has been inserted which says that groups mentioned in Clause V and VI will only be considered a political group by the Centre if they participate in “active politics or party politics”.As per the FCRA, members of legislatures, political parties, government officials, judges and media persons are prohibited from receiving any foreign contributionFCRA regulates foreign donations and ensures that such contributions do not adversely affect the internal security of the country. The Act, first enacted in 1976, was amended in the year 2010, when a slew of new measures were taken by the Union Home Ministry to regulate foreign donations. It was again amended in September this year.The Act is applicable to all associations, groups and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) who intend to receive foreign donations.
The new rules also make new FCRA registrations more stringent.Any organisation that wants to register itself under FCRA “shall be in existence for three years” and should have “spent a minimum amount of ₹15 lakh on its core activities for the benefit of society during the last three financial years”. However, exceptions could be granted “provided that the Central Government, in exceptional cases or in cases where a person is controlled by the Central Government or a State Government may waive the conditions”.The amended rules also said that office bearers of NGOs or organisations seeking registration under the FCRA must submit a specific commitment letter from the donor indicating the amount of foreign contribution and the purpose for which it was being given.