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HomeNewsHome Ministry cancels LIFE's Foreign Contribution Registration Act (FCRA) licence

Home Ministry cancels LIFE’s Foreign Contribution Registration Act (FCRA) licence

The Union home ministry has cancelled the Foreign Contribution Registration Act (FCRA) licence of environmental lawyer Ritwick Dutta’s non-governmental organisation Legal Initiative for Forest and Environment (LIFE) after the licence remained suspended for 180 days.

The Central Bureau of Investigation had last week initiated a probe against Dutta and his NGO for alleged FCRA violations.

Officials said a probe revealed that the funds were allegedly being misused. They said LIFE was allegedly receiving funds from US-based non-profit public interest environmental law organisation Earthjustice to litigate against Indian coal projects with the intention of “targeting and stalling them”, a practice that the ministry deemed a “violation of FCRA”.

ET’s queries emailed to LIFE remained unanswered till press time.

Officials said that LIFE had allegedly received money from Earthjustice disguised as “professional receipts”, which was intended to fund the targeting and stalling of development projects. The NGO, they said, was not providing legal advice to Earthjustice for financial consideration.

The CBI alleged in its first information report that Dutta had received Rs41 lakh in foreign contributions in 2013-14 from Earthjustice and had subsequently established LIFE Proprietorship, which had received ₹22 crore during 2016-21 in the form of professional receipts.

ET Bureau

It was further alleged that Earthjustice and the Sandler Foundation in the US had proposed to fund legal activism aimed at “taking down” India’s existing or proposed coal projects, which would be a violation of FCRA and harmful to India’s national economic security. LIFE was formed in 2008 with the mandate of promoting environmental democracy by facilitating access to information, public participation and access to justice in matters relating to the environment.Earlier, the home ministry cancelled Oxfam India’s FCRA licence and ordered a CBI probe into alleged violations. The alleged violations included funds routed to the Centre for Policy Research (CPR) through its associates and employees in the form of commission. The Income Tax Department carried out surveys on Oxfam India and CPR India in September last year. The CPR’s FCRA licence was suspended for six months in February this year.

The ministry grants FCRA licence for five years to NGOs to receive foreign grants.

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