Hyderabad, 1 January 2022
Many Christians NGOs are aghast at the FCRA website information that their FCRA licenses were ceased or renewal refused or FCRA cancelled on January 1, 2022.
“The All India Christian Council calls upon the Prime Minister who is a major champion of democracy to immediately intervene in the midst of this humanitarian crisis across India,” says Archbishop Joseph D’Souza, President of the All India Christian Council.
The pressure and harassment of Christian and other NGOs continue after the refusal to renew the FCRA registration of Mother Teresa’s organisation. There is already a global concern and backlash on the decision taken on the FCRA renewal of the Missionaries of Charity and how it has exposed tens of thousands of workers and beneficiaries to a dire and desperate crisis.
It does not behave any government to be seen as heartless in the present Covid context in India which has had huge economic effects.
NDTV reports that 12,000 NGOs find themselves in a place where it is announced that the FCRA registration has ceased or is not renewed or even cancelled.
Hundreds of Christian NGOs who are members of the All India Christian Council have reported this predicament in relation to the FCRA department.
While accepting that there may some NGOs who simply are lax in filling up their forms in time ceasing or shutting down the FCRA license of long standing NGOs is a hard and drastic step. Opportunities for redressal need to be provided to the NGOs.
One of the big issues for some of the Christian NGOs is the malfunction of the FCRA portal itself which has severe glitches because of which the NGOs have been unable to file the renewal forms. This is certainly not the fault of the NGOs.
Further, there has been a long and inordinate delay in setting up the bank account in the New Delhi SBI accounts without which one cannot file for renewal status. The complexity of setting up the SBI account in New Delhi for organisations based across India have proved to be enormous. Already several groups have petitioned the Supreme Court on the issue.
The next problem is that FCRA accounts are suspended or frozen without proper notice by an instant communication that state due to ‘adverse’ reports the accounts are frozen. No evidence is provided about these ‘adverse’ reports.
Communication with the FCRA office results mostly in silence and no replies. Most Christian NGOs report an almost total non-access in communication with the FCRA department.
A good process requires that due notice is sent to the individual entities on either ceasing or suspension of FCRA accounts and to require an explanation for any sort of non-compliance. The issue too has now landed in the Court in Vijaywada.
If the FCRA department follows due process it would find that many NGOs were stuck in dealing with the new SBI account or the FCRA portal and other time-consuming glitches.
Most importantly at a time when the nation has reeled under the Covid crisis and jobs have dwindled and care for the poor and needy has suffered this kind of a mass action is unwarranted and result in a humanitarian assault on the sector that provides employment to tens of thousands of people and help and succour to hundreds of thousands of beneficiaries across the nation.
Right now there is no mechanism for redressal with the FCRA department for the NGOs. There is no public relations officer in this crucial FCRA department.
The All India Christian Council calls upon the Prime Minister who has rightly championed democracy around the world to address the needs of the Christian NGOs as well as other NGOs who are faced with this humanitarian crisis.
The Council wonders as to why the NGOs who serve the poor and needy in health education and economic development or religious work are put through this enormous strain and difficulty at this particular time.
And VERY IMPORTANTLY when the MHA itself has extended the date of application for renewals to March 31st, 2022, what was the need to cease the functioning of thousands of NGOs because the application for renewal was not filed by December 31st, 2021. This does not make sense.
At a time when the Prime Minister is investing much time and energy building the profile of India as a major democracy, damage to the image of the Prime Minister and India is enormous in what can be described as a shoddy approach of a key government department
Released on behalf of Archbishop Joseph D’Souza, President, All India Christian Council.
Archbishop Joseph Dsouza is a globally known campaigner and writer for the religious freedom of all faiths and no faith as well as the right to education, health, and economic dignity of the poor and destitute in different parts of the world. He is the founder of the global entity Dignity Freedom Network which works in South Asia as well as Archbishop of the Good Shepherd movement.