CBI probe against Oxfam India ordered by MHA for FCRA violationstext_fields
New Delhi: The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Thursday recommended a CBI investigation into suspected FCRA violations by the international non-profit organization, Oxfam India, which came two years after the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) rejected the organisation's application to renew its Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) registration.
According to a representative of MHA, Oxfam India was registered under the FCRA, in 2010, for the purpose of carrying out social activities, and their registration remained good until December 31, 2021. The MHA is said to have discovered a number of serious infractions at this time, and as a result, they reported it to the CBI for possible legal action, Indian Express reported.
“The MHA found that Oxfam India continued to transfer foreign contributions to various entities even after coming into force of the FCRA, 2020 which prohibits such transfers. The amendment came into force on September 29, 2020, and Oxfam India transferred funds to other NGOs, violating provisions of the FCRA, 2010,” a source said.
When contacted, an Oxfam India spokesperson said, “Oxfam India is fully compliant with Indian laws and has filed all its statutory compliances, including Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) returns, in a timely manner since its inception. Oxfam India has been cooperating with all government agencies since its FCRA registration wasn’t renewed in December 2021. We have filed a plea in the Delhi High Court against the decision to not renew our FCRA registration. The High Court has asked the Union government to respond to our plea.”
“In times of growing inequality and greater need for action on poverty eradication, Oxfam India has been and will continue to work in the public and national interest. Oxfam India believes this is our constitutional duty as an organisation, irrespective of obstacles and hurdles in the path,” it said
Last year, the Income Tax Department conducted a “survey” on the premises of Oxfam India. “From emails, found during an IT survey by the CBDT, it is revealed that Oxfam India was planning to circumvent provision of the FCRA, 2010 by routing funds to other FCRA registered associations or through the for-profit consultancy route. IT survey by the CBDT also exposed Oxfam India as a probable instrument of foreign policy of foreign organisations/entities which have funded Oxfam India liberally over the years,” the source said.
“Oxfam India received foreign contributions amounting to around Rs 1.50 crore directly into its FC utilization account instead of receiving foreign contributions in designated FCRA accounts,” the source said.
According to sources, Oxfam India sent money in the form of commissions through its partners and workers to the Centre for Policy Research (CPR). “The same is also reflected from the TDS data of Oxfam India which shows payment of Rs 12,71,188 to the CPR in the financial year – 2019-20 under section 194J,” the source said.
On February 13, the Delhi High Court requested the Center's position in response to Oxfam India's request to renew its FCRA, 2010, registration. On December 22, 2021, Oxfam India's request to renew its FCRA registration on December 22, 2021, was rejected by the Centre through the MHA. The ruling was challenged by Oxfam India in the High Court, which then ordered the Centre to issue a reasoned spoken order about the revision petition. In response, on December 1, 2022, the Centre issued a decision rejecting Oxfam's request for a modification and dismissing the organisation's request to have its FCRA registration renewed. According to the argument, Oxfam India seeks to reduce poverty and promote human development in India.
According to its website, Oxfam India is a part of the global alliance of 21 Oxfams worldwide. In 2008, Oxfam India separated from its parent organisation to become an Indian NGO. The six poorest states in India—Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Assam, and Odisha—were identified by Oxfam as the ones where it was most required. The government officially recognised Oxfam India as a “non-profit organization under Section 8 of the Indian Companies Act, 2013.”
Oxfam India has responded to disasters in Assam, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Kashmir, Manipur, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, and Odisha over the past 10 years. Additionally, they have helped internally displaced people during the Kargil War, the violence in Muzaffarnagar, the violence in Kokrajhar, and other conflicts.
This is the second time in the past month that the MHA has suggested a CBI investigation. Aman Biradari, an NGO founded by author and human rights campaigner Harsh Mander, was the subject of an MHA recommendation for a CBI investigation in March for potential FCRA violations. “During 2018 to 2022, the FCRA registration certificates of 1,827 associations have been cancelled due to violation of the provisions of the Act and rules,” Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai told Rajya Sabha last month.