The Lok Sabha passed the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2020, on Monday, even as the Opposition raised concerns that the legislation may be used to target political opponents and religious minorities.
Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai, who introduced the Bill on behalf of Union Home Minister Amit Shah, defended making Aadhaar a mandatory identification document for all the office-bearers of an NGO or an association seeking foreign donations.
He said the 2018 Supreme Court order allowed the government to make a separate law in areas where Aadhaar card is required. “A law can be brought to make Aadhaar mandatory. Why some functionaries can hide their identity,” Mr. Rai asked.
Supriya Sule of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) attacked the government on limiting administrative expenses drawn from foreign donations to 20% as against the current 50%. “I request the Central government to stop bulldozing people who do good work. There may be a bad apple among the NGOs, but there are a hundred others doing good work,” Ms. Sule said.
Gaurav Gogoi of the Congress said the Bill aimed at curbing political dissent and due to the 20% cap, many NGOs will shut shop and many people will become jobless.
Mr. Rai justified the amendment to cut administrative expenses saying many NGOs use the donations for personal use.
Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, leader of the Congress party in the Lok Sabha, also said there is a political agenda behind the legislation. “On one hand the government invites foreign funds, but when such funds come for educational and charitable purposes, it is prevented... Your intention is to exempt PM CARES Fund from scrutiny,” Mr. Chowdhury said.
Responding to the charge that the Bill would hit the funds being received by educational institutions run by the Christian community, Mr. Rai said the government is not against any religion. “This Bill is to ensure that the money being contributed from abroad is not misused”.