Skip to main content

Home Ministry suspension of rights activist Teesta Setalvad-led Sabrang Trust's FCRA termed "malafide"

By Our Representative
In a detailed 24-page response dated October 5, 2015, prominent human rights activist Teesta Setalvad’s Sabrang Trust, Mumbai, has challenged the Ministry of Home Affairs’ (MHA) Foreign Contributon Regulation Act (FCRA) department’s September 9 order suspending its FCRA registration as "malafide".
The MHA served the notice amidst Teesta’s dogged effort to bring Prime Minister Narendra Modi to books for his alleged participation in the 2002 Gujarat riots through the petition filed by Zakia Jafri, the veteran of Ehsan Jafri, ex-Congress MP, who was murdered by the saffron mob on February 28, 2002.
In a statement, the trust has said, it is “shocked and surprised” by the MHA order for “completely ignoring” point-by-point response that Sabrang Trust had submitted on June 5 and 25 following the MHA/FCRA team’s queries and on-the-spot inspection of the trust’s accounts on April 9-11.
The statement has been made even as the Gujarat High Court on Wednesday rejected the plea by Setlavad to defreeze the bank accounts of the Sabrang Trust by the Crime Branch of the Gujarat Police.
 “Sabrang Trust maintains that the manner in which the order mechanically repeats the alleged violations of FCRA, 2010 and Foreign Contribution Regulation Rules (FCRR) 2011 as set out in its earlier ‘observations’ clearly shows that the order has been passed without any application of mind and suffers from arbitrariness”, the statement says.
Giving details of rebuttal, the Sabrang Trust has said, the main allegation is, Teesta and her husband Javed Anand are co-editors of” Communalism Combat” published by Sabrang Communications and Publishing Pvt. Ltd (SCPP), and also write for other periodicals and newspapers, and thus the Sabrang Trust has violated provisions of the FCRA Act.
Pointing out that it is the Sabrang Trust, which was granted registration under FCRA, that is “prohibited from publishing or acting as correspondent, columnist, editor, etc.”, the response says, “Nowhere does the letter place any restriction or prohibition on any of its board members or office bearers being publishers, editors, printers, etc. of a registered newspaper run by some other independent legal entity.”
Further, it says, Section 3(1)(b) of FCRA, 2010 must be read with Section 4 of FCRA, 2010. It quotes Section 4 as saying: “Nothing contained in section 3 shall apply to the acceptance, by any person specified in that section, of any foreign contribution where such contribution is accepted by him, subject to the provisions of Section 10 – (a) by way of salary, wages, or other remuneration due to him or to any group of persons working under him, from any source or by way of payment in the ordinary course of business transacted in India by such foreign source”.
Coming to the allegation that 64.23% and 55.14% of donations for the years 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 had been spent on administrative expenses, the statement says, “The inspection team has concluded that administrative expenses were in excess of the permitted 50% limit only the basis of an entirely erroneous reading of Rule 5 of FCRR, 2011.”
Underlining that a detailed account of “administrative expenses” has been submitted, it says, “Expenses directly related to project execution are not to be included in administrative expenses.”
Then there is the allegation that Rs 50 lakh were reimbursed to SCPPL were transferred for personal gain, about which the statement says, the so-called transfer of Rs 50 lakh (between 2006-07 and 2013-14, i.e. 7 years) by Sabrang Trust to SCPPL “appears to be exaggerated.”
The only “transfer” was by Sabrang Trust to SCPPL was “towards its agreed monthly share of shared actual expenses incurred on office/furniture and fixtures/office equipments/staff. None of this amount was paid to Teesta Setalvad or Javed Anand, and no rent has ever been charged to any trust or entity for use of office space from Teesta Setalvad’s parents”, the statement says.
As for the total amount, “even assuming the inspection team’s figure to be correct, it means payment of an average of around Rs 7 lakh per year or less than Rs. 60,000 per month towards shared actual expenses incurred on: staff salaries (9 employees); repair and maintenance of office space; repair, maintenance, upgradation of office equipments (including 12 computers, printers, photocopier, fax machine etc.); electricity bills etc.”, the statement says.
“Nowhere does FCRA or FCRR bar an association with FCRA registration from a cost-saving, expenses-sharing arrangement with other association(s), whether registered under FCRA or not”, the statement says.

Comments

TRENDING

Why do I lend my support to voices protesting world class renovation of Gandhi Ashram?

By Martin Macwan* One would not expect an activist working on Dalit rights to join such a protest. Dalits carry unhealed trauma that Gandhi caused to Dr BR Ambedkar and the Dalit cause of effective political representation by using violent means of his own definition in the event of the Poona Pact. This apart, Gandhi’s ideas in general, which changed often, on caste were orthodox. I have nothing to add to the subject after the sharpest critique offered by Dr Ambedkar.

Iswarchandra Vidyasagar was a 'frustrated' reformer who turned into a conservative

By Bhaskar Sur "If someone says the Manusamhita was written by all wise Manu and the principal scripture of the land and if he asks me to throw it away, I'll say it is nothing short of atrocious audacity." -- Iswarchandra Vidyasagar

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

2002 riots: Gujarat assembly 'misinformed' about dereliction of duty, says ex-DGP

By Rajiv Shah  Former Gujarat topcop RB Sreekumar, an IPS officer of the 1971 batch, has alleged that the Gujarat government gave “totally false information” on the floor of the State Assembly regarding the appeal he made to the Gujarat governor for the “initiation of departmental action against those responsible for culpable negligence in maintenance of public order and investigation of genocidal crimes” during the 2002 riots.

Odisha bauxite mining project to 'devastate' life of 2,500 Adivasi, Dalit farmers: NAPM

Counterview Desk  While the public hearing on mining in Mali hills has been cancelled due to protests by Adivasi and Dalit farmers of the Mali Parbat Surakhya Samiti, Odisha, who have been protesting against the proposed bauxite mining project, India’s top civil rights network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) has said it is “deeply concerned” at the decision of the Government of Odisha to push the project in a Schedule-V Adivasi-belt Koraput district against the interests of the people and environment.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Economy in tatters, labour codes 'take away' workers' safety, benefits, right to form TU

By Our Representative  The four new labour codes promulgated by the Government of India came in for sharp criticism from several labour unions and civil rights groups at one-day discussion meeting organised in Ranchi (Jharkhand) on the issue of ‘changes in labour laws. Participants in the meeting asserted that under these new codes, many of the benefits and safeties accorded to labourers have been "taken away", while the right of labourers to create trade unions has been attacked.

'Devastating impact': Rural workers suffer as Govt of India NREGA budget down by 34%

Counterview Desk  A civil rights group, the NREGA Sangharsh Morcha has sent a letter to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj stating that 34 per cent decrease in the fiscal budget of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA) for year 2021-22 has added to woes on India’s rural population, already suffering from “devastating impact” of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Celebrating birthday amidst image of 'coerced, submissive' India ruled by a strong leader

Pushkar Raj*  As the weeks long birthday festivity of the leadership was being rejoiced India wide, the Covid was still raging in several parts of India. The carnival was in line with the post-Covid decisions and actions of the leadership demonstrating a pursuit of personal power and glory instead of national interest in times of disease and death.

Politically-motivated: Global NGO network on ED 'harassment' of Harsh Mander

Counterview Desk  CIVICUS , a top global alliance of civil society organisations seeking to strengthen citizen action and civil society around the world with a claimed membership of more than 10,000, objecting to the alleged harassment of IAS bureaucrat-turned-human rights activist Harsh Mander by the Government in India, has said that the the the Enforcement Directorate (ED) raid on his house and office highlights “an ongoing pattern of baseless and politically-motivated criminal charges brought by the authorities against activists across India”.