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Validity of Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act registration of NGOs extended

This article discusses the complexities of NGO registration under Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA). It  examines its procedures, implications, recent issues, and concluding reflections.

What is the context?

The Union Home Ministry has extended the validity of the Foreign Contribution (Regulatio  n) Act (FCRA) registration until 30th June, 2024. This timely extension comes as registrations for many NGOs are due for renewal since September 29, 2020. It reflects the periodic nature of FCRA registration, which mandates renewal every five years.

Guidelines
  • The Ministry reminded to all FCRA-registered associations that a refusal of renewal application results in the immediate expiry of the certificate. It will render the association or NGO ineligible to receive or utilize foreign contributions.
  • The Ministry’s directive applies to FCRA entities whose validity period ends between April 1 and 30 June this year. It also includes NGOs that applied for renewal before the expiry date. These entities will receive an extension until 30th June, 2024 or until the renewal application is disposed of. This prioritizes continuity and compliance with the regulatory framework.
What is Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA)?
  • The act aims to consolidate and regulate the acceptance and utilization of foreign contributions or hospitality by specific entities, also prohibiting the use of such resources for activities detrimental to national interests. This act is connected with the evolution of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act in India.
  • The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act traces its roots back to 1976, a period characterized by the Emergency in India. The primary intent behind its inception was to monitor and curtail foreign influence across various domains, including social, political, economic, and religious sectors.
  • The legislative landscape underwent further changes in 2010, with the repeal of the 1976 Act. It was replaced by the more stringent Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act of 2010
Registration of NGOs under FCRA

In recent years, the registration of NGOs under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act has sparked considerable debate and scrutiny. This legislation, designed to regulate the inflow of foreign funds to NGOs and ensure transparency in their operations, plays a significant role in shaping civil society in India.

While NGOs play a significant role in addressing societal challenges, concerns over potential misuse of foreign funds and threats to national interests have necessitated regulatory frameworks like FCRA.

 Recent Issues:

Recent years have seen contentious debates over NGO registration under FCRA, with notable issues including:

  • Stringent Enforcement: Critics argue that FCRA enforcement is overly stringent, posing challenges for NGOs in meeting compliance standards.
  • Regulatory Ambiguity: Ambiguities in FCRA provisions have led to confusion and legal disputes, necessitating clarity and reform.
  • Access to Foreign Funds:  Accessing foreign funds for legitimate activities is a matter of concern.
Conclusion:

In conclusion, NGO registration under FCRA is a multifaceted process with profound implications for civil society and developmental initiatives. While FCRA regulations aim to ensure transparency and accountability, they also pose challenges for NGOs.

As debates continue, stakeholders must engage in constructive dialogue to create a balance between regulatory oversight and NGO-led development efforts. A holistic approach with principles of transparency and participatory governance, is important for utilising the potential of NGOs as agents of positive change.

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