Skip to main content

Privacy, legal concerns raised over Govt of India mandating NGOs using foreign money to register, obtain UID number

By Our Representative
A Civil Society Organizations (CSO) Support Cell, an apex body of foreign funded NGOs, is all set to take strong exception to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) public notice, making it mandatory for all existing Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) organisations, as also those seeking FCRA registration, to register on NITI Aayog’s NGO-Darpan portal and generate a unique identification number (UIDN).
A draft letter it has prepared says that "although CSOs are committed to ensuring transparency and accountability of the sector, this mandatory requirement is not only unnecessary but does not appear to carry the mandate of law."
Currently being vetted by senior NGO leaders carrying out their activity with foreign funds, the letter says, there are already "fairly stringent mechanisms to regulate foreign funding of NGOs" and they have been complying with the "reporting procedures with information about the organisations, its chief functionaries, sources of funding, lists of activities, annual reports and so on."
Hence, it insists, "Registering and reporting on Darpan portal is therefore an unnecessary, additional requirement."
The letter, which will be sent to the MHA, says, "It is understood that the NGO Darpan-portal was set up to create a database of organisations which want to seek government funding. As such, a mandatory requirement for foreign-funded NGOs to register does not fulfil the objective of the portal to facilitate government funding."
It believes, "An additional requirement of registration with Darpan portal does not serve the purpose of streamlining the process of reporting to the government. It, in fact, makes it more cumbersome without any conceivable advantage."
The letter goes on: "It is also not clear as to whether the requirement of registration on Darpan is supported by the law. The FCRA and its allied rules, which regulate foreign funding of organisations, do not mandate any requirement for Darpan registration or UIDN."
It emphasises, "This requirement has been created by merely an executive notice which does not seem to have the requisite statutory backing."
"Further", the letter says, "There is no statutory backing for Darpan portal or NITI Aayog, as both have been established by executive action. There is also no clarity on grievance redressal mechanism, definition of ‘active members’ and safety measures for data protection of the portal."
According to the letter, "Public disclosure on the portal also raises concerns on questions of privacy as the range of information that is required to be submitted is excessive and intrusive. Not only does the portal require organisational particulars, but also individual details including Aadhaar number of ‘active members’."
Pointing out that this is particularly strange with the privacy concerns of Aadhaar is being tested for its Constitutional validity by the Supreme Court, the letter says, "These intrusive details could be used as tools for targeted harassment of critics of the government."
Referring to "the spate of increasingly stringent regulatory framework for the voluntary sector", the letter says, CSOs are "apprehensive that another tool that may be used to arbitrarily suppress and hamper, rather than facilitate and advance", their work.
The letter, drafted by Aditya Shrivastava, comes amidst the suggestion by several senior activists that the MHA should be told in clear-cut terms that, when it comes to foreign funds, they are being treated "differently" from industry and trade, which also receives foreign funds.
Pradeep S Mehta, who heads the CUTS Institute for Regulation & Competition, Jaipur, said in an email alert, "Considering the resolve of the government of 'minimum government, maximum governance' and the recent remarkable progress on World Bank's Ease of Doing Business ranking from 130 to 100, it would make eminent sense to regulate foreign funding of the civil society to the bare minimum", quite in line with the reforms agenda of the government.
"If FDI and FII do not face such controls, why should civil society's forex receipts be treated differently", he wonders.

Comments

Dwiji Guru said…
Leave aside for a minute the govt sanction nay, encouragement to bring in foreign funds to industry and trade - modifications to FCRA (made effective from a past date) condoned gross violations of the law by political parties that received foreign funds and allows them to keep recieving it without any road blocks !!

TRENDING

Mystery around Gujarat PSU 'transfer' of Rs 250 crore to Canadian firm Karnalyte

By AK Luke, IAS (Retd)*
While returning from a Board meeting of the Oil India Limited (OIL) in Ahmedabad some time in 2012, two officers of the Gujarat State Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd (GSFC), Nanavaty and Patel,  saw me off at the airport. They said they were proceeding to Canada in connection with a project GSFC had entered into with a company there. As we were running late, I hastily wished them the best.

J&K continues to be haunted, as parts of India 'degenerate' into quasi-Kashmir situation

By Rajendran Narayanan*, Sandeep Pandey**
“Jab har saans mein bandook dikhe toh baccha kaise bekhauf rahe?” (How can a child be fearless when she sees a gun in every breath?) remarked Anwar, a gardener from Srinagar, when asked about the situation in Kashmir. On November 30, 2019, a walk through an iron gate in a quiet neighbourhood of Srinagar took us inside a public school. It was 11 am when typically every school is abuzz with activity. Not here though.

Indians have made 119 nations their ‘karma bhumi’: US-based Hindu NGO tells Rupani

Counterview Desk
In a stinging letter to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, the US-based Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR), referring to the report citing his justification for the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) – that “while Muslims can choose any one of the 150 Islamic countries in the world (for residence), India is the only country for Hindus" – has said, he should remember, Hindus have made several countries, including USA, their home.

Savarkar in Ahmedabad 'declared' two-nation theory in 1937, Jinnah followed 3 years later

By Our Representative
One of the top freedom fighters whom BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi revere the most, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, was also a great supporter of the two nation theory for India, one for Hindus another for Muslims, claims a new expose on the man who is also known to be the original proponent of the concept of Hindutva.

Dalits rights meet planned on how citizenship law 'negates' Ambedkar's equality focus

By Our Representative
A Dalit rights meet has been planned at the Dalit Shakti Kendra (DSK), Sanand, Ahmedabad district, to discuss implications of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), passed by Parliament on December 10-11, for Dalits, Adivasis and other marginalized sections. Announcing the decision, DSK director Martin Macwan said, the meet would take place on December 25, 2019, at 11.00 am, to commemorate the anniversary of burning of copies of Manusmriti by Dr BR Ambedkar.

What about religious persecution of Dalits, Adivasis, asks anti-CAA meet off Ahmedabad

By Rajiv Shah
A well-attended Dalit rights meet under the banner “14 Pe Charcha” (discussion on Article 14 of the Indian Constitution), alluding to Prime Minister Narendra Modi well-known campaign phrase of the 2014 Parliamentary elections, “chai pe charcha” (discussion over cup of tea), organized off Ahmedabad, has resolved on Wednesday to hold a 14 kilometres-long rally on April 14 to oppose the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), enacted on December 10-11.

Upendra Baxi on foolish excellence, Indian judges and Consitutional cockroaches

By Rajiv Shah
In a controversial assertion, top legal expert Upendra Baxi has sought to question India's Constitution makers for neglecting human rights and social justice. Addressing an elite audience in Ahmedabad, Prof Baxi said, the constitutional idea of India enunciated by the Constituent Assembly tried to resolve four key conflicting concepts: governance, development, rights and justice.

'Allow critical thinking': SAARC-sponsored varsity teachers support protesting students

By Our Representative
Teachers of the high-profile South Asian University (SAU), a New Delhi-based international institute sponsored by eight member states of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka – have supported “peacefully protesting students and other citizens” against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), 2019 and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

Kerala governor turned History Congress into political arena, 'insulted' Prof Irfan Habib

Counterview Desk
In a signed statement, office bearers of the Aligarh Society of History and Archaeology (ASHA), Prof Syed Ali Nadeem Rezavi (president), Prof Jabir Raza (vice-president), Prof Manvendra Kumar Pundhir (secretary) and Prof Farhat Hasan (joint secretary), have said that Kerala governor Arif Mohammad Khan had sought to insult veteran historian Prof Irfan Habib, 88, at the 80th session of the Indian History Congress, even as turning it into his “political arena”.