The Union home ministry has cancelled the licence of 4,842 NGOs and organisations, including Indira Gandhi National Open University (Ignou) and Delhi’s Guru Tegh Bahadur Khalsa College, under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act for failing to file annual returns from 2010-11 to 2014-15 despite several reminders, sources in the ministry told TOI on Saturday.
It is mandatory for an NGO or an organisation that has been granted licence under FCRA to file returns of its foreign contribution receipts and expenditure records on an annual basis.
The Union home ministry scrapped FCRA registration of the 4,842 NGOs and organisations on August 8 this year after they did not file returns for a minimum three out of five years between 2010-11 and 2014-15.
It be recalled that it had in a similar exercise in 2015 cancelled the registration of 10,020 NGOs over non-adherence to FCRA norms. The NGOs affected at the time included Delhi University, Jawaharlal Nehru University, IIT (Delhi), School of Planning & Architecture and Punjab University.
Incidentally, institutions formed under an Act or statute are exempt from mandatory FCRA registration and filing of annual returns. A 2011 home ministry notification exempted them on the ground that their accounts were anyway scrutinised and audited by CAG.
“JNU, IITs and Delhi University can therefore still receive foreign funding despite having lost their FCRA licence in 2015,” said a home ministry official.
In May, around 18,500 NGOs that had not been regularly filing returns under FCRA over past 5 years, were given a one-time opportunity to give details of their income and expenses. No penalty was to be paid by the defaulters. While 12,537 NGOs reverted, around 5,922 did not bother to upload their returns.
The latter were served a notice in July, well after the extended deadline to file returns had expired, asking why their FCRA licence should not be cancelled over non-filing of annual returns.
While 950 NGOs responded to the notice, there was no word from the 4,842 organisations, leaving the home ministry no other option but to cancel FCRA registration of the latter. The remaining are under review. IGNOU and Guru Tegh Bahadur Khalsa College are the two prominent names in the cancelled list, an officer said adding that they had not filed annual returns for a single year between 2010-11 and 2014-15.