Missionaries of Charity denied FCRA nod

‘No freeze ordered by Ministry of Home Affairs on any of our bank accounts,’ it clarifies

December 27, 2021 04:24 pm | Updated December 28, 2021 08:01 am IST - New Delhi/Kolkata

Nuns of the Missionaries of Charity, the order founded by Saint Teresa, wearing masks and face shields as precaution against the coronavirus distribute food to poor and homeless people in Kolkata on Aug. 26, 2020.

Nuns of the Missionaries of Charity, the order founded by Saint Teresa, wearing masks and face shields as precaution against the coronavirus distribute food to poor and homeless people in Kolkata on Aug. 26, 2020.

The Union Home Ministry (MHA) said on Monday that it has refused to renew the FCRA registration of Missionaries of Charity (MoC), a Catholic religious congregation set up by Nobel laureate Mother Teresa , as “some adverse inputs were noticed.”

The Hindu Explains | What is Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, and how does it control donations?

The Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) registration is mandatory for any NGO or association to receive foreign funds or donations.

MoC said that as their FCRA application has not been approved, they have asked their centres not to operate the bank accounts associated with it.

Also read: India tightens oversight on funds received by NGOs

According to the 2020-21 annual financial returns filed by the MoC on December 13, it had received over ₹75 crore donation from 347 foreign individuals and 59 institutional donors. It had a balance of ₹27.3 crore in its FCRA account carried forward from the previous year and the total balance stood at ₹103.76 crore.

The NGO registered in Kolkata has more than 250 bank accounts across the country to utilise the foreign funds. Some of the biggest donors are Missionaries of Charity in the U.S. and United Kingdom that contributed over ₹15 crore to MoC, India, for “primary health care, education assistance, treatment of leprosy patients” among others.

Also read: Why is the Home Ministry tasked to monitor foreign funds for NGOs, asks Supreme Court

MHA said in a statement that the renewal was refused on December 25 for not meeting the eligibility conditions and “No request / revision application has been received from Missionaries of Charity (MoC) for review of this refusal of renewal.” It said that its license was valid till October 31 but it was extended till December 31 along with other associations whose renewal is pending.

“We have been informed that our FCRA renewal application has not been approved. Therefore, as a measure to ensure there is no lapse, we have asked our centres not to operate any of the FC (foreign contribution) accounts until matter is resolved,” a statement from Sister M Prema, Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity said.

The MoC in its statement clarified that “FCRA registration of Missionaries of Charity has neither been suspended nor cancelled. Further there is no freeze ordered by the Ministry of Home Affairs on any of our bank accounts”.

Earlier in the day reports that bank accounts of MoC were frozen by the Centre had triggered concerns among and social and political circles.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Archdiocese of Calcutta have expressed shock over the developments.

Taking to the social media, Ms. Banerjee said the decision has left about 22,000 patients and employees without food and medicines. The Trinamool Congress chairperson said while the law is paramount, humanitarian efforts must not be compromised.

“In freezing the bank accounts of Missionaries of Charity Sisters and Brothers congregations, government agencies have given a cruel Christmas gift to the poorest of the poor,” Father Dominic Gomes, Vicar General, Archdiocese of Calcutta said in a statement.

Other leaders from West Bengal, including Communist Party of India ( Marxist) State Secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra and Congress Rajya Sabha MP Pradip Bhattacharya raised the issue and criticised the Union government. After the Centre clarified that it has not frozen any bank accounts of the Missionaries of Charity and the organization came out with a statement, TMC Rajya Sabha MP Derek O’ Brien called it “shameless damage control tactics” of the Centre.

“First the Government of India INTIMIDATES. For weeks, right through to December 25. And then they pile on the pressure to extract this. Shame on the MHA and its shameless damage control tactics,” Mr. O’ Brien tweeted.

Mother Teresa had set up Missionaries of Charity, a Catholic religious congregation in 1950. She was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1979. She died on September 5, 1997 and was declared a saint by Pope Francis in September 2016.

Registered associations can receive foreign contribution for social, educational, religious, economic and cultural purposes. Filing of annual returns, on the lines of Income Tax, is compulsory.

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