The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has constituted an inter-ministerial committee to probe the violation of various legal provisions by three NGOs — Rajiv Gandhi Foundation , Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust and Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust.
All the three non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are linked to the Congress and Congress President Sonia Gandhi is the chairperson of the RGF and the RGCT.
A senior official of the Enforcement Directorate will head the committee.
Reacting to the MHA’s decision, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted, “Mr. Modi believes the world is like him. He thinks every one has a price or can be intimidated. He will never understand that those who fight for the truth have no price and cannot be intimidated.”
An MHA spokesperson tweeted on Wednesday, “MHA sets up inter-ministerial committee to coordinate investigations into violation of various legal provisions of PMLA, Income Tax Act, FCRA etc. by Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust & Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust. Spl. Dir of ED will head the committee.”
The composition of the committee is not known yet nor are its terms of reference.
The violations mentioned in the spokesperson’s tweet pertain to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, the Income Tax Act and the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA).
As per the MHA website, both the RGF and the RGCT are registered FCRA associations, a pre-requisite for NGOs and other associations to receive foreign donations. The Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust is not a FCRA registered association.
According to the latest annual returns filed by the RGF in December 2019, the NGO received zero foreign donations in 2018-19 but the total foreign contribution in its account carried forward from previous years is ₹14,03,64,727.
The annual returns filed by the RGCT show that it received ₹23,24,35,975 from foreign donors in 2018-19 and the total donation in its FCRA account stood at ₹85,13,65,166.
A sizeable part of the RGCT’s foreign donation in 2018-19 — ₹23,06,03,400 — came from the U.S.-based Bill Melinda Gates Foundation.
The RGCT website says it is a “registered, not-for-profit organisation” and was “established in 2002 to address the development needs of the underprivileged of the country, especially the rural poor.”
Recently the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party had alleged that the RGF continuously received donations from the Chinese embassy between 2006 and 2009.
The allegations came in the middle of build up of Chinese troops along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh and the June 15 incident at the Galwan Valley when 20 Indian soldiers were killed.
Mr. Gandhi, a key office-bearer of the NGOs that are under the scanner, has sharpened his attack on the government, accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of surrendering territory to China.