INDIA REPLIES TO UNHCR CHIEF’S CRITICISM
Recent amendment in Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Act drew a criticism from UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet raised the closure of Amnesty International after it was found to be in violation of FCRA rules. Michelle Bachelet also asserted that, Constructive criticism is the lifeblood of democracy. Even if the authorities find it uncomfortable, it should never be criminalized or outlawed.
Responding to the criticism, India asserted that India is a democratic polity based on the rule of law and an independent judiciary. The framing of laws is obviously a sovereign prerogative.
The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Act 2020
The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Act 2020 has been notified by the Central Government (Government) on 29 September 2020, to amend certain provisions of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act 2010 (Act / FCRA).
Provisions of the Bill:
The Bill bars public servants from receiving foreign contributions.
The Bill prohibits the transfer of foreign contribution to any other person.
The term ‘person’ under the Bill includes an individual, an association, or a registered company.
The FCRA 2010 allows transfer of foreign contributions to persons registered to accept foreign contributions.
The Bill makes Aadhaar number mandatory for all office bearers, directors or key functionaries of a person receiving foreign contribution, as an identification document.
In case of a foreigner, a copy of the passport or the Overseas Citizen of India card for identification is required.
The Bill states that foreign contribution must be received only in an account designated by the bank as FCRA account in such branches of the State Bank of India, New Delhi. No funds other than the foreign contribution should be received or deposited in this account.
The person may open another FCRA account in any scheduled bank of their choice for keeping or utilizing the received contribution.
The Bill allows the government to restrict usage of utilized foreign contribution.
Bill proposes that not more than 20% of the total foreign funds received could be defrayed for administrative expenses. In FCRA 2010 the limit was 50%.
The Bill allows the central government to permit a person to surrender their registration certificate.
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