On January 7, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) restored the FCRA registration of Missionaries of Charity (MoC), the Catholic congregation founded by Bharat Ratna, Mother Teresa. The restoration comes after global outrage broke out when the Ministry had announced that the FCRA registration of the MoC was not renewed as “some adverse inputs were noticed”. That was on Christmas 2021.
Now the NGO with the registration number-147120001 has been included in the list of 16,908 NGOs whose FCRA registration is active as on January 7, reported The Hindu, and now the MoC is “eligible to receive and utilise foreign funds in its bank accounts.”
The UK Parliament had debated the issue, seeking to know if the British government had raised the issue of blocking of overseas funds of the MoC and other NGOs with India, added the news report.
The move comes after much uncertainty on the issue and a global debate when news of 22,000 inmates in the homes run by Missionaries of Charity (MoC) across India being hit with basic food and medicine shortages was accompanied by reports (officially confirmed) of the accounts of the charity (MOC) being frozen. The Ministry of Home Affairs had claimed that: “State Bank of India informed that Missionaries of Charity itself sent a request to SBI to freeze its accounts” in an official statement!
The government has claimed that it “did not freeze bank accounts of Missionaries of Charity (MoC)” and added that the renewal under application under Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) for renewal of registration was “refused due to adverse inputs”. It added that “no request / revision application has been received from Missionaries of Charity for review of refusal of renewal”. The renewal was refused on Christmas day, December 25 2021, for “not meeting the eligibility conditions under FCRA 2010 and Foreign Contribution Regulation Rules (FCRR) 2011,” stated the government.
The MHA had stated that the “Missionaries of Charity (MoC) was registered under FCRA vide Registration No 147120001 and its registration was valid up-to October 31, 2021. The validity was subsequently extended up-to December 31, 2021 along with other FCRA Associations whose renewal application was pending renewal. However, while considering the MoC’s renewal application, some adverse inputs were noticed. In consideration of these inputs on record, the renewal application of MoC was not approved.” However, it has not shared what those “adverse inputs” were or if the MoC had been informed. It sounds strange that the Missionaries of Charity “asked” State Bank of India to “freeze its accounts”!
This has been called out by All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) leader and Member of Parliament, Derek O’Brien, as “a filthy hit job on Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity” adding that the official statement by MHA is “spin doctoring” and a “cover up”.
The registration of nearly 6,000 NGOs lapsed from January 1 as the MHA refused to renew their application or the NGOs did not apply for renewal.
According to the news report, an MHA official said on January 1, that the “Ministry declined to renew the FCRA registration of 179 NGOs, while 5,789 associations did not apply for a renewal before the December 31 deadline. The deadline for those NGOs who had applied before December 31 and whose application was not rejected have been given an extension till March 31.”
According to The Hindu, the 2020-21 annual financial returns filed by the Kolkata registered MoC, on December 13, the total balance in its foreign contribution bank account stood at ₹103.76 crore. It has more than 250 bank accounts across the country to utilise the foreign funds.
Ironically, shortly after the rejection of the renewal application, Missionaries of Charity (MoC) nuns were evicted from the Shishu Bhawan orphanage in Kanpur Cantonment, Uttar Pradesh on January 3, 2022. This home sheltered orphaned, destitute and abandoned children since its establishment in June 1968. The sisters owned the property for 53 years after buying it from a private entity and helped in the adoption of 1,500 abandoned babies. They also served thousands of other poor and deprived like leprosy patients, unwed mothers and children of construction or migrant labour.
However, the Defence Estates Office (DEO) said that it owns all the land in the 62 cantonments of India and claimed that Shishu Bhawan was built on leased land, and that the 90-year lease expired in 2019, following which the nuns were dubbed as “trespassers”. They were slapped with a penalty fee of ₹ 1 crore per annum, amounting to ₹ 2 crores now.
Defence Ministry evicts Missionaries of Charity from Kanpur Shishu Bhawan
FCRA licenses cancelled: What happens now to the social work and institutions run by these NGOs?
According to MHA, Missionaries of Charity itself “requested SBI to freeze its own accounts”!