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Temporary breather to Teesta Setalvad's NGOs

Government has given a temporary relief to social activist Teesta Setalvad's two NGOs, which allegedly violated Foreign Currency Regulation Act, by allowing them more time to reply to its showcause notices.



New Delhi: Government has given a temporary relief to social activist Teesta Setalvad's two NGOs, which allegedly violated Foreign Currency Regulation Act, by allowing them more time to reply to its showcause notices.

Sabarang Trust and Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), run by Teesta and her husband Javed Anand, were served the notices nearly a month ago following an on-site inspection of their records and books of accounts carried out by Home Ministry officials in April this year.

"Even after almost a month, no reply has come from the two NGOs. We have extended the deadline by a fortnight and asked them to reply by mid-July to our showcause notices. If the NGOs do not reply even then, we will have no option but to cancel their FCRA registration," a Home Ministry official said.

During the probe under Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), Home Ministry officials found that Teesta and her husband were running a magazine "Communalism Combat" as co-editors as well as printer and publisher of their company Sabrang Communication and Publishing Pvt Ltd (SCPPL) and allegedly received foreign contribution.

Under FCRA, no foreign contribution shall be accepted by any correspondent, columnist, cartoonist, editor, owner, printer or publisher of a registered newspaper.

CJP, which has been fighting cases for victims of 2002 Gujarat riots, had received a total foreign contribution of around Rs 1.18 crore from 2008-09 to 2013-14.

According to the notice, more than 80 per cent or nearly Rs 95 lakh was spent for legal aid.

While the entity was registered for 'Educational and Economic' purposes, it received foreign contribution for activities such as 'Legal Aid' which is covered under purpose 'Social'. Hence, it violated FCRA rules, they contended.

"On review of vouchers of the association, it was found that Sabrang Trust has made payment of Rs 12 lakh from FCRA-designated account to Citi Bank and Union Bank of India on account of credit facilities taken through credit cards belonging to Setalvad and Anand.

"This amounts to use of foreign contribution for the purposes not authorised as per the provisions of FCRA 2010. Thus, the association has violated Section 8(1) (a) of FCRA 2010," the Home Ministry notice said.  

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