The government on Thursday gave a one-time exemption to NGOs, whose Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act registrations were cancelled for not filing annual returns, to apply for registration within three months, a move which may benefit hundreds of organisations.
It has been further decided that for uploading missing annual returns on the FCRA Portal, no penalty will be imposed, according to a Home Ministry order.
The exemption is a one-time measure and available only to those associations whose certificates have been cancelled only because of non-filing of annual returns, the order said.
In case of other violations of the provisions of the FCRA, the associations will have to ensure that these violations, except non-submission of annual returns, are compounded before making fresh application for grant of registration or prior permission, it said.
Over 4,800 NGOs were barred from receiving foreign funds in the last three years as their FCRA registrations were cancelled for not filing annual returns, Union Minister Kiren Rijiju had said in Parliament on January 2.
Non-submission of the mandatory annual returns is a violation of the provisions of the FCRA.
The Home Ministry order on Thursday said that in view of repeated representations made by many such associations, it has been decided to give a one-time exemption in public interest to such associations to enable them to apply for registration within three months from the issuance of the notice issued on Thursday.
The order said that Section 18 of the FCRA provides for submission of annual returns by all associations who have been granted certificate of registration or prior permission.
The government in 2015 made it mandatory for all associations having certificate of registration or prior permission to file their annual returns only in electronic format on the web portal of FCRA.
As several NGOs could not file their annual returns in time, despite opportunities given to them earlier, the FCRA registration of many associations was cancelled.
Due to the cancellation, the associations were not eligible for registration or grant of prior permission for a period of three years from the date of cancellation of their certificate.
Earlier, many associations had applied afresh for registration which was refused on account of their debarment for three years.