Govt Suspends Think Tank CPR’s FCRA LicenceMar 2, 2023 | Pratirodh Bureau
The Ministry of Home Affairs has suspended the FCRA licence of prominent public think-tank Centre for Policy Research (CPR) for six months over alleged violation of laws, officials said on Wednesday.
CPR, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), in a statement, said it continues to cooperate fully with authorities, is in complete compliance with the law and is routinely scrutinised and audited by government authorities, including the Comptroller and Auditor General of India. It also said in light of the current order, it will “explore all avenues of recourse” available to it.
CPR was under scrutiny after Income Tax surveys on it and Oxfam India in September last year. The Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) licence of CPR has been suspended over alleged violation of laws, the officials said.
Oxfam’s FCRA licence was suspended in January last year, after which the NGO had filed a revision petition with the home ministry.
With the suspension of its licence, given under the FCRA, the Centre for Policy Research will not be able to receive any funds from abroad.
The donors of CPR included the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the University of Pennsylvania, the World Resources Institute and the Duke University, the officials said.
According to CPR’s website, its founder is Pai Panindiker and former members of the governing board include former prime minister Manmohan Singh, former Chief Justice of India, the late, Y V Chandrachud.
The think-tank has been asked to give clarification and documents regarding FCRA funds received by it, the officials said. The FCRA licence of CPR was last renewed in 2016 and was due for renewal in 2021.
In its statement, CPR said the Ministry of Home Affairs has intimated it that its registration under the FCRA has been suspended for a period of 180 days. In September 2022, the Income Tax Department conducted a survey at CPR’s premises, and as part of the survey follow-up process, CPR received several notices from the department, it said.
Following due process, detailed and exhaustive responses have been submitted to the department, the NGO said.
“CPR has and continues to cooperate fully with the authorities. We are in complete compliance with the law and are routinely scrutinised and audited by government authorities, including the Comptroller and Auditor General of India,” the statement said.
CPR said it has annual statutory audits, and all its annual audited balance sheets are in the public domain and “there is no question of having undertaken any activity that is beyond our objects of association and compliance mandated by law”.
“In light of the current MHA (Ministry of Home Affairs) order, we will explore all avenues of recourse available to us,” it said.
The NGO said its work and institutional purpose is to advance its constitutional goals and protect constitutional guarantees. “We are absolutely confident that the matter will be resolved speedily, in fairness and in the spirit of our constitutional values,” it said.
The CPR said it was founded in 1973 and it has been one of India’s leading policy research institutions, home to several eminent thinkers and policy practitioners whose contribution to policy in India is well recognised.
It is an independent, non-partisan institution that conducts its work with complete academic and financial integrity, CPR said.
CPR works with government departments, autonomous institutions, charitable organisations and universities in India and across the globe, the statement said.
The institution’s work is globally recognised for its academic and policy excellence and full-time and visiting scholars at CPR include members of NITI Aayog, former diplomats, civil servants, members of the Indian Army, journalists and leading researchers, it said.
Through its five-decade long history, CPR has worked in partnership with governments and grassroots organisations, which include partnerships with the ministries of environment, forest and climate change, rural development and Jal Shakti, and the governments of Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Meghalaya and Rajasthan, amongst others.
CPR’s website said through its research and policy making engagements, CPR works closely with policymakers in its aim to place India firmly on the path of building a twenty-first century policy ecosystem.