MHA suspends think-tank CPR's FCRA license amid I-T probe
The Central government on Wednesday suspended the license of the well-known think-tank Centre for Policy Research (CPR) after discovering that it allegedly violated the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), Hindustan Times reported, citing sources. The action comes months after the Income Tax (I-T) Department "surveyed" records of CPR as part of a probe related to foreign funding.
Why does this story matter?
- The decision comes months after the I-T Department submitted an investigation report following its survey in September 2022.
- CPR, founded in 1973, is one of India's most prestigious policy research think tanks.
- It was once chaired by academician Pratap Bhanu Mehta, an outspoken critic of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
- It is presently chaired by Meenakshi Gopinath, a former Jawaharlal Nehru University professor.
Further action will take place after thorough investigation
Reportedly, the suspension order was issued by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Monday based on prima facie evidence that certain provisions of FCRA were not followed by CPR. The MHA officials claimed that after suspension, a thorough investigation will take place and further decisions will be taken accordingly after that, according to HT.
License suspended after I-T Department indicted CPR's foreign funding operation
The decision to suspend CPR's license was made by MHA after the I-T Department reportedly indicted CPR in its report to the government about its findings from a survey conducted in September 2022. As part of an investigation into foreign donations, the department "surveyed" the records of CPR and other NGOs, such as Oxfam India and the Bengaluru-based Independent and Public-Spired Media Foundation.
CPR issues statement stating that it complies with all laws
Soon after the MHA decision, CPR released a statement saying "it was in complete compliance with the law" and was routinely scrutinized and audited by government authorities. "There is no question of having undertaken any activity that is beyond our objects of association and compliance mandated by law," the organization says on its website after the MHA decision.
Will explore all options to resolve the matter: CPR
CPR further said that it will explore all avenues of recourse available to them. "Our work and institutional purpose are to advance our constitutional goals and protect constitutional guarantees. We are absolutely confident that the matter will be resolved speedily under constitutional values," it added.
What is FCRA license?
The FCRA was enacted during the Emergency in 1976. Voluntary organizations associated with the social and cultural sectors are required to register under it to receive foreign funding. It also helps the government keep an eye on the foreign funding received by NGOs and ensure that the funding is used appropriately and for the purpose for which it was received.
A little more about CPR
Yamini Aiyar, daughter of Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar, is CPR's current president and CEO. Former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, former Chief Justice of India Justice YV Chandrachud, and renowned writer BG Verghese have all served on the board. CPR describes itself as "a non-profit, non-partisan, independent organization devoted to producing research that contributes to high-quality scholarship, improved policy, and healthy public conversation."