Centre Asks CBI To Probe Oxfam India's Alleged FCRA Violation

The Income-tax department had in September last year conducted a survey operation against Delhi-based think-tank Centre for Policy Research (CPR) and global NGO Oxfam India

CBI official

The Ministry of Home Affairs has recommended the CBI to probe into alleged violations of FCRA by the global non-profit organisation Oxfam India.

The home ministry found that Oxfam India continued to transfer foreign contributions to various entities even after registering under the FCRA, which prohibits such transfers, PTI reported. 

Oxfam India is the second NGO against whom the home ministry has recommended a CBI probe within a month for alleged violation of the FCRA. On March 20, the home ministry recommended a CBI inquiry against Aman Biradari, an NGO established by activist Harsh Mander. Aman Biradari was one of the NGOs to which Oxfam India transferred foreign contributions, violating the law, sources said.

Meanwhile, the NGO released a statement saying it is fully compliant with Indian laws and has filed all its statutory compliances, including FCRA returns, in a timely manner since its inception. “Oxfam India has been cooperating with all government agencies since its FCRA registration wasn't renewed in December 2021. We have filed a plea in the Delhi High Court against the decision to not renew our FCRA registration. The high court has asked the Union government to respond to our plea,” Oxfam India said.

It was during a survey carried out by the Income Tax department, however, that multiple emails were found which revealed that Oxfam India was allegedly planning to circumvent provisions of the FCRA by routing funds to other FCRA-registered associations or through the for-profit consultancy route, sources said.

The survey also "exposed" Oxfam India as a probable instrument of foreign policy of foreign organisations or entities, which have funded the organisation liberally over the years, they said. Oxfam India, which is registered to carry out social activities, allegedly routed funds to the Centre for Policy Research (CPR) through its associates and employees in the form of commission, sources said. Following these findings, the home ministry recommended a CBI probe into the affairs of Oxfam India, they said.

The Income-tax department had in September last year conducted a survey operation against Delhi-based think-tank Centre for Policy Research (CPR) and global NGO Oxfam India apart from a media foundation as part of a probe related to alleged FCRA contravention in funds received by them, official sources said.

All NGOs receiving foreign contributions have to mandatorily register with the home ministry under the FCRA. Oxfam India's FCRA licence was not renewed in December 2021, while that of CPR was suspended for six months on March 1 for alleged violation of laws.

Officials said between 2018 and 2022, the FCRA registration of 1,827 NGOs was cancelled due to violation of its provisions and rules.

As on March 10, 2023, there were 16,383 FCRA-registered organisations. A total amount of Rs 55,449 crore in foreign funding has been received by Indian NGOs in the last three years. An amount of Rs 16,306.04 crore was received by NGOs across the country in 2019-20, Rs 17,058.64 crore in 2020-21, and Rs 22,085.10 crore in 2021-22, the Rajya Sabha was informed last month.