FCRA for NGO publishing Newspaper

NGOs engaged in publishing newspaper registered under the Press Registration of Books Act, 1867 are required to furnish details regarding such newspaper and also give a declaration in Form X (enclosed in Annex. 3.1). The Government Of India issued a notification in 1987 allowing NGOs which have publications other than newspaper as defined in section 1(1) of Press and Registration of Books Act, 1867. Further, a certificate is also required to be obtained from the Registrar of Newspapers of India, that the publication of the NGOs does not form in the category of newspaper as per section 1(1) and falls in the category B, which is permissible. The text of the notification is as under: “S.O.760(E), Dated August 3, 1987 [F.No.II/21022/14(5)/87-FCRA-I], published in the Gazette of India.

In exercise of the powers conferred by Section 31 of the Foreign Contribution(Regulation) Act,1976(49 of 1976), the Central Government hereby exempts from the operation of the provisions of section 4(1)(b) any association(not being a political party), organisation or individual (not being a candidate for election) whoso printed work is –

(i) not a newspaper as defined in section 1(1) of the Press and Registration of Books Act, 1867 (25 of 1867); or
(ii) not required to be registered under Party V-A of the said Act, though it may, in fact, be registered by the Registrar of Newspapers of India under the Part :
subject to the condition that such Association (not being a political party), organisation or individual (not being a candidate for election) whosoever claim exemption under this order shall furnish a declaration in the Form annexed here to the Central Government and such declaration shall subsequently be furnished in each calendar year by 31st January.”

Certificate of Recommendation
Foreign Contribution Amendment Rules, 2000, inserted clause 10A in Form FC-1A, requiring the insertion of a certificate from a competent authority. This certificate can be given by any one of the following :

(1) Collector of District
(2) Department of the Statement Government
(3) Ministry or Department of the Government of India

In this certificate the competent authority certifies the address and the field of activities in which the organisation is working. It also states that there are no adverse antecedents of the organisation, the proposed activities will be beneficial to the people living in that area and the detail of prior permission if taken earlier.

Refusal to grant registration
As far as the rejection or refusal of an application for registration is concerned, section 6 does not state anything clearly. Section 6(1) is completely silent about the grounds or the reasons on the basis of which an application can be rejected. In the case of MARPU, Hyderabad v. Union of India, Andhra Pradesh High Court, WP No. 756, dated 1987 it was held that the scope of section 6(1) was confined to registration of an organisation having a definite cultural, economic, educational, religious or social programme. There was no indication in section 6 regarding the grounds on which an application for registration could be declined. However some indications in this regard are available from section 10 which talks about the power of Central Government to prohibit receipt of foreign contribution if it believes that it may effect the sovereignty and integrity of India or the public interest.

Any authority possessing the power to register has an implicit power to reject or refuse to register, as well, but the power of refusal should not be arbitrary, ambiguous and unreasonable and should be in consonance with the purpose and intent of section10 of the Act. If the application of an association is refused, then the authorities have to communicate the reasons for refusal to the applicant. It is necessary that the order of rejection must contain the reason on the basis of which the refusal has been made, so that in case of an appeal the court could study the tenability of such reasons. The principles of “audi alteram partem” are very much applicable during the rejection of an application as basic principle of natural justice.

Powers of Government to prohibit acceptance of contributions
In the light of the powers conferred on the Central Government under section10, it is abundantly clear that any association applying for registration may not automatically get registration. Precaution and discretion can be exercised by the Central Government in order to ensure that the purposes of FCRA are safeguarded. The Central Government may prohibit acceptance of foreign contribution, if it is satisfied that such acceptance is likely to affect the following :

(i) the sovereignty and integrity of India; or
(ii) the public interest; or
(iii) freedom or fairness of election to any Legislature; or
(iv) friendly relation with any foreign State; or
(v) harmony between religious, racial, linguistic or regional groups, castes or communities.
Measures likely to be adopted – In the likelihood of the above mentioned eventualities the Central Government may resort to any of the following measures :

(i) It may even prohibit persons and association not specifically prohibited under section 4. In other words, it may also prohibit persons and associations other than specified in section 4, from accepting foreign contribution. The persons prohibited under section 4 are the following:

(a) candidate for election,
(b) correspondent, columnist, editor, owner, printer or publisher of a registered newspaper
(c) [Judge], Government servant or employee of any corporation,
(d) member of any legislature,
(e) political party or office-bearer thereof.

(ii) It may require association specified under section 6 to accept foreign contribution after obtaining prior permission only. In other words, even the associations which are registered under FCRA, can be asked to accept foreign contribution after taking prior permission.

(iii) It may require persons or associations specified under section 6 to furnish intimation/information regarding foreign contribution received and utilised by them within such time as may be prescribed by the Central Government.

(iv) It may require persons other than those specified under section 9 not to accept any foreign hospitality without obtaining prior permission. It may be noted that section9 restricts acceptance of foreign hospitality except with prior permission by

– member of a Legislature
– office, bearer of a political party
– judge
– Government servant or employee of any corporation
while visiting any country or territory outside India, and accepting except with the prior permission of the Central Government, any foreign hospitality.

(v) Further, the Central Government may require any person or class of persons, not specified in section 9 to furnish intimation/information regarding receipt of any foreign hospitality, within such time as may be prescribed.
Text if satisfactory provision – The provisions of section10 are as under :
“Power of Central Government to prohibit receipt of foreign contribution, etc. in certain cases. – The Central Government may —

(a) prohibit any association, not specified in section 4, or any person, from accepting any foreign contribution;
(b) without prejudice to the provisions of sub-section (1) of section 6, require any association specified in that sub-section, to obtain prior permission of the Central Government before accepting any foreign contribution;
(c) require any person or class of persons, or any association, not being an association specified in section 6, to furnish intimation within such time and in such manner as may be prescribed as to the amount of any foreign contribution received by such person or class of persons or association, as the case may be, and the source from which and the manner in which such contribution was received and the purpose for which and the manner in which such foreign contribution was utilised;
(d) require any person or class of persons, not specified in section 9, to obtain prior permission of the Central Government before accepting any foreign hospitality;
(e) require any person or class of persons, not specified in section 9, to furnish intimation, within such time and in such manner as may prescribed, as to the receipt of any foreign hospitality, the source from which and the manner in which such hospitality was received :
Provided that no such prohibition or requirement shall be made unless the Central Government is satisfied that the acceptance of foreign contribution by such association or person or class of persons, as the case may be, the acceptance of foreign hospitality by such person, is likely to affect prejudicially-

(i) the sovereignty and integrity of India ; or
(ii) the public interest; or
(iii) freedom or fairness of election to any Legislature ; or
(iv) friendly relations with any foreign state ; or
(v) harmony between religious, racial, linguistic or regional groups, castes or communities.

Ozg FCRA Consulting

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Ozg Consulting Private Limited

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