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KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • "There is no fundamental right to receive uncontrolled foreign contributions without any regulation," the central government has stated "unequivocally."
  • While defending revisions to the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act made in 2020, the Central government told the Supreme Court that the right to life and liberty under Article 21 does not include the right to receive unregulated foreign contributions (FCRA).

BACKGROUND

  • The Centre stated in an affidavit filed before the Supreme Court that there is no risk of fundamental rights being violated by restricting the acceptance of foreign contributions by certain types of organisations or individuals because those organisations or individuals are always willing to operate with locally secured funds to achieve their goals.
  • The affidavit was produced in response to three petitions, two of which challenged the changes' legitimacy and one of which sought stronger enforcement.
  • Noel Harper of the NGO Care And Share Charitable Trust argued that Sections 7, 12A, 12(1A), and 17 of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Act, 2020, which were inserted into the FCRA by the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Act, 2020, were in violation of Articles 14, 19, and 21 of the Indian Constitution.
  • Jeevan Jyothi Charitable Trusts filed a petition challenging the constitutional validity of amended Section 17 of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010, on the grounds that it requires the primary FCRA account to be opened exclusively in a State Bank of India (SBI) branch in New Delhi, as notified by the Central government.
  • In its affidavit, the Centre justified each of the challenged provisions.
  • It further said that the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Act of 2020 does not prevent anyone who meets the foregoing criteria from obtaining FCRA registration or prior authorisation.
  • This adjustment was necessary because it was increasingly difficult to track the transferee's eventual use of the foreign contribution.
  • The former Section 7 provision of transfer permitted the transferee to further transfer it to another association, and that transferee could further transfer it.
  • To prevent such infractions and malpractices, the government argued that it was necessary to halt the transfer of foreign contributions in order to fix accountability and verify that the recipient organisation actually uses the Foreign Contribution that it receives.

WHAT IS FCRA

  • The Indian Parliament passed the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010, by the 42nd Act 2010.
  • It is a consolidated Act whose purpose is to regulate the acceptance and use of foreign contribution or foreign hospitality by certain individuals, associations, or companies, as well as to prohibit the acceptance and use of foreign contribution or foreign hospitality for any activities that are detrimental to the national interest, and for matters related to or incidental to such activities.
  • Its purpose is to make up for flaws in the 1976 Act.
  • The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2020 was introduced by Minister of Home Affairs Amit Shah.
  • The bill proposed a number of amendments to the existing Act.
  • It aimed to make providing Aadhaar numbers mandatory for office bearers of any NGO. It also gives the government the authority to conduct a "summary inquiry" into an organization's use of foreign funds.
  • The law aims to improve compliance by increasing openness and accountability in the receipt and use of foreign contributions, as well as supporting genuine non-governmental organisations or associations that work for the common good.

What do you think is meant by foreign contribution?
In your opinion, why is FCRA needed? Let us know in the comments below!

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