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Pattern of Harassment, Says Amnesty India after CBI Raids Offices over 'Irregularities' in Foreign Funding

The probe agency earlier registered a case against Amnesty International India and three of its associate organisations for alleged violation of laws pertaining to Rs 36 crore foreign fundings, said officials.

News18.com

Updated:November 15, 2019, 11:29 PM IST
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Pattern of Harassment, Says Amnesty India after CBI Raids Offices over 'Irregularities' in Foreign Funding
The Amnesty International office building in Bengaluru. (PTI)

New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Friday registered a case against Amnesty International India and three of its associate organisations for alleged violation of laws pertaining to Rs 36 crore foreign fundings, said officials.

After the case was registered, the CBI carried out searches at four places in the national capital and Bengaluru.

Officials said the CBI registered the case on November 5 following a complaint lodged by the Union Home Ministry for alleged violation of the provision of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 and Indian Penal Code. The case was registered against Amnesty International India Pvt Ltd (AIIPL), Indians For Amnesty International Trust (IAIT), Amnesty International India Foundation Trust (AIIFT), Amnesty International South Asia Foundation (AISAF) and others.

It was alleged that the provision of the FCRA and IPC were contravened by the aforesaid entities by receiving foreign contributions from Amnesty International UK through AIIPL even though prior registration or permissions were denied to AIIFT and other trusts under FCRA, the officials said.

After the searches, Amnesty International India alleged that over the past year, a pattern of "harassment" has emerged every time it stands up and speaks out against "human rights violations" in the country.

"Over the past year, a pattern of harassment has emerged every time Amnesty India stands up and speaks out against human rights violations in India," it said in a statement. "Amnesty India stands in full compliance with Indian and international law. Our work in India, as elsewhere, is to uphold and fight for universal human rights. These are the same values that are enshrined in the Indian Constitution and flow from a long and rich Indian tradition of pluralism, tolerance, and dissent."

In October last year, the Enforcement Directorate had conducted searches at two locations of Amnesty International India in the Karnataka capital in connection with a foreign exchange contravention case.

According to a complaint filed by the Home Ministry with the CBI, AIIPL is a 'for-profit' company. It was observed that London-based Amnesty International worked through four companies, which have been named by the CBI in the case.

It is alleged that a payment of Rs 10 crore, classified as Foreign Direct Investment, was remitted to Amnesty India from London office without taking the home ministry's approval. Another Rs 26 crore has been remitted to Amnesty India, "primarily from the UK based entities".

"All such receipts have subsequently been expended on Amnesty's NGO activities in India, in violation of FCRA," said the probe agency, alleging that Amnesty made several attempts to obtain prior permission or registration under FCRA, failing which, it used "commercial methods to evade FCRA". It further alleged that Amnesty India received funds for purposes like 'service contract', 'advance income' and FDI through automatic route.

Out of the Rs 36 crore received, Rs 10 crore were remitted as FDI, Rs 26 crore as payment for consultancy services, it claimed.

The UK-based Amnesty International invested Rs 10 crore to AIIPL on September 24, 2015. The amount was classified as 'compulsory convertible debenture' but was shown in Income Tax returns as "long term borrowing".

While forwarding the complaint, the home ministry directed the CBI to rope in Income Tax and Enforcement Directorate in case violations of relevant acts was found during the investigation.

(With PTI inputs)

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