MHA cancels FCRA registration of PHFI

Gladys Abbott
April 21, 2017

With the move. the government has barred an NGO from receiving foreign funding including from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

A home ministry official said the action was part of a crackdown on non-government agencies and advocacy organisations following inputs with the Centre suggesting that such organisations receiving foreign funding had emerged as virtual "sleeper cells" that had the potential to harm national interest at the behest of foreign powers.

In a major setback to the prominent public health NGO, Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), the Union Home Ministry has cancelled its registration under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, alleging violations of the law, preventing it from taking any further foreign contributions and donations. The ministry also alleged that PHFI had opened accounts it didn't disclose, misreported foreign donations and transferred money overseas without alerting the government. "A committee report tabled in March past year says: ":They highlighted before the committee the serious repercussions of the tobacco use on the health of humans, the effect & impact of printing of big and visible pictorial warning on different tobacco products viz. cigarette, bidi & pan masala packs on the illiterate and the youth of the country, the position of India vis-a-vis other countries in printing size of pictorial warning on tobacco products etc".

Also, it is alleged to have wrongfully declared Rs 43 crore received for anti-tobacco lobbying when foreign funding during 2009-10 and 2012-13 was received seeking permission of the home ministry for the goal "research" and "establishment of corpus fund".

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The group's spokesman Rajeev Chhibber said Friday that the organization received a letter from the Ministry of Home Affairs saying it lost its registration to get foreign money last week.

He further added that, "Certain observations were made by MHA on utilisation of funds related to PHFI's projects on tobacco, HIV/AIDS and it's financial reports".

The PHFI said it had submitted the requisite information and documents to the home ministry on the observations raised in the notification and provided the needed clarifications.

According to the website, PHFI was inaugurated by PM Manmohan Singh in 2006. "These funds were provided by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation". "Many of these activities were in partnership with the Ministry of Health".

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