The Central Bureau of Investigation on Tuesday carried out searches at 40 places to investigate Union home ministry officials who allegedly allowed non-governmental organisation to receive foreign funds in exchange for bribes, The Indian Express reported.
The agency is questioning six home ministry officials in connection with the matter.
The searches were carried out in Delhi, Rajasthan, Chennai, Hyderabad, Coimbatore, and Mysuru, among other places, a spokesperson for the investigation agency said.
The agency said that it launched the operation after it received a complaint on the matter from the Union home ministry, PTI reported. Illegal transactions of nearly Rs 2 crore have been revealed so far in the operation, the news agency quoted anonymous officials as saying.
A CBI officer also said that some home ministry officials may be arrested if needed.
In India, NGOs require a licence under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act to receive funds from abroad. An amendment to the Act in 2020 made Aadhaar mandatory for all office-bearers of NGOs that seek foreign contributions.
The new rules require any organisation that wants to register itself under the FCRA to have existed for at least three years and to have spent a minimum of Rs 15 lakh on its core activities during the last three financial years for the benefit of the society.
On April 8, the Supreme Court had upheld the validity of the FCRA Act.
The Centre has refused to renew the FCRA licences of 466 NGOs since 2020, according to the Hindustan Times. Of these, 100 applications were refused in 2020, 341 in 2021 and 25 till March this year.
On June 7, the Union Home Ministry had suspended Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative’s registration under the FCRA for 180 days citing several violations of the Act. In December, the government extended the suspension for another 180 days.
On January 1, Oxfam India was among the 6,000 non-governmental organisations whose FCRA registration had expired. The registrations had ended as either the organisations did not apply for renewal, or the home ministry refused to sanction their applications.