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Teesta’s NGOs get notices from Centre

New Delhi:
Alleging illegal diversion of foreign funds, the Union home ministry has served notices to two NGOs run by social activist Teesta Setalvad and her husband Javed Anand. Issued on June 4, the notice has asked the NGOs to reply within 15 days and explain the alleged violations of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) detected during an inspection of their accounts in April.“If the replies are not satisfactory , or no reply is received by the stipulated date, appropriate action would be taken under law,“ said a senior home ministry official. Sources said it could mean suspension of FCRA registration of both the NGOs.

The notices were served to Sabrang Trust and Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) after search and investigations conducted at their Mumbai offices.Sources said the violations relate to use of foreign contributions to publish a magazine `Communalism Combat‘ when FCRA rules expressly prohibit use of foreign donations for media ventures.

Under FCRA, diversion of funds to a non-FCRA registered body and for purposes other than the NGOs declared objectives is illegal. The probe found accounting anomalies in use of foreign funds by the NGOs.

Importantly , the home min istry is also mulling action against Sabrang Communications and Publishing Private Ltd (SCPPL), which is not registered under FCRA, for receiving a $2.9-lakh Ford Foundation grant made to but subsequently diverted by Sabrang Trust.

“The inspection at SCPPL was completed in the first week of June and a notice will be served under FCRA to the private company once the inspection report is compiled,“ said a home ministry official.

Sources said the notices asked the two NGOs to reply to eight violations of the FCRA detected against Sabrang Trust and six violations found against CJP . Sources said during the probe it was found that Setalvad and Anand were running “Communalism Combat“ as co-editors and were printer and publisher of their company SCPPL.

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% or nearly Rs 95 lakh was received 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 the provisions of the FCRA rules, the notice says.

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