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Parliament passes Foreign Contributions (Regulation) Bill, 2006

Indian Parliament has passed a Bill to regulate acceptance and utilisation of foreign contributions and hospitality to NGOs, associations or individuals in order to prevent activities detrimental to the national interest

Alarmed over the “size of money” coming into the country from abroad and recipient organisations and individuals not reporting it to the authorities, the Indian government got the Foreign Contributions (Regulation) Bill 2006 cleared by the Rajya Sabha. The Lok Sabha has already passed the Bill.  

The Bill seeks to prohibit acceptance and utilisation of foreign contributions and foreign hospitality by individuals, associations and companies for activities detrimental to the national interest. The Bill empowers the government to inspect and seize accounts or records if it suspects a contravention of the provisions of this law. 

The Bill has several new features compared to the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act, 1976. These relate to registration of certain persons with the central government; the registration will be valid for a five-year period. 

“We have examined the working of the law in the last 34 years and we think it is time to replace it with a brand new law. That is why, instead of attempting piecemeal amendments, we are bringing in a fresh Bill,” Union Home Minister P Chidambaram told the Rajya Sabha. 

“The regulations have been so framed that while legitimate charitable, social, educational and medical activity that serves any public purpose is allowed, foreign money does not dominate social and political discourse in India… But, if you want to access foreign money, then one has to come under a system of regulation,” Chidambaram said. 

He added that the government was dealing with nearly 40,000 associations. “In fact, the number as on July, 2010, is 40,173. My biggest problem when I reviewed this Act is that one-half of the associations do not report the foreign contributions; they do not file accounts… Therefore, if the organisations do not file accounts or do not report, then we have taken the power. Now, after issuing a show-cause notice, their registration will be cancelled and further consequences will follow,” he said. 

The minister said that if an individual or organisation accepted foreign hospitality, permission would have to be sought from the government. He said the Bill also ensured stricter punishment for violators. 

According to the government, the Bill is necessary because of changes in the internal security scenario, increasing influence of voluntary organisations, spread of the use of communication and information technology, a quantum jump in the amount of foreign contributions being received, and large-scale growth in the number of registered organisations receiving foreign aid. All this necessitated changes in the existing Act. 

Source: The Indian Express, August 20, 2010
           United News of India, August 20, 2010