The Foreign Contribution and Regulation Act licence of an NGO run by activist Teesta Setalvad was cancelled on Thursday by the government for alleged violation of various provisions of law.
In an order, the Home Ministry said during inspections, various irregularities were found in Sabrang Trust, where Teesta and her spouse Javed Anand work as chief functionary or trustee, and after careful examination of the NGO's response, its registration was cancelled.
"... In exercise of powers conferred by clauses (b), (c) and (d) of sub-section (1) of Section 14 of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act 2010, the central government hereby cancels the permanent registration of Sabrang Trust with immediate effect," the order said.
According to the Home Ministry, Teesta and Anand are also working as directors, co-editors, printers and publisher in the company namely Sabrang Communications & Publishing Pvt Limited (SCPPL) and published a magazine called Communalism Combat.
Sabrang Trust has spent an amount of Rs 50 lakh for SCPPL clearly violating the mandate of the FCRA. By this action, the NGO has not only unauthorisedly utilised the foreign contribution for the purposes of an unregistered entity but also that entity being a self-owned media and publication company, utilised that amount for activities totally prohibited by FCRA, it said.
The order said the NGO has transferred an amount of Rs 2.46 lakh from its foreign contribution designated account to Sabrang Trust domestic account, thus mixing of domestic and foreign funds and violating the rules.
Sabrang Trust has made direct payments of approximately Rs 12 lakh from FCRA designated account to Citi Bank and Union Bank of India on account of credit cards belonging to Teesta and Anand respectively.
The cards are issued in the name of the individuals and the above payments of the foreign contribution shall be treated to have been used for personal gain, the Home Ministry said.
In 2010-11, the NGO has incurred 64.23 per cent of the foreign contribution on administrative expenditure and during 2011-12, it incurred 55.14 per cent on administrative expenses without obtaining the prior approval of the central government, which is in violation of FCRA.
FCRA rules state that if an NGO's administrative expenses exceed 50 per cent of total foreign donations, the organisation needs an approval from the Home Ministry.
Teesta has pursued the cases of post-Godhra riots victims in Gujarat when Narendra Modi was Chief Minister of the state.
Another NGO run by Teesta and Anand - Citizens for Justice and Peace - has already been put under prior permission category, thus making it mandatory for the organisation to take permission from the Home Ministry before accepting or utilising any foreign contribution.
Following a recommendation of the Home Ministry, CBI has already registered a case and launched a probe against Sabrang Communication and Publishing Pvt Limited for allegedly accepting and utilising foreign contribution in violation of FCRA.
Feature image source: AFP/File