The Union home ministry has cancelled the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act licence of Delhi-based think tank Centre for Policy Research, The Hindu reported on Wednesday.

Registration under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act is mandatory for a non-profit organisation to receive foreign funds. Centre for Policy Research is now ineligible to receive fresh donations from abroad. It also requires the home ministry’s clearance to use its corpus of existing foreign donations.

The government first suspended Centre for Policy Research’s FCRA licence in March for 180 days, and extended the suspension after this period lapsed. The think tank, along with the non-governmental organisation Oxfam India and the Independent and Public Spirited Media Foundation in Bengaluru, were earlier scrutinised by the Income Tax department in September 2022.

The Centre for Policy Research was founded in 1973. It describes itself as a “non-partisan, independent institution dedicated to conducting research that contributes to high-quality scholarship, better policies, and a more robust public discourse about the issues that impact life in India”.

The home ministry has cancelled the licence alleging that the think tank violated the foreign funding laws. Centre for Policy Research President Yamini Aiyar told The Hindu that the organisation will weigh its legal options to seek justice.

“The cancellation of our FCRA [licence] is distressing, for it is a cancellation that is disproportionate and without adequate opportunity to be heard,” Aiyar said. “We remain committed to our core goals and remain steadfast in our belief that this matter will be resolved in line with constitutional values and guarantees.”

Aiyar also told the newspaper that Centre for Policy Research has been functioning within the framework of the law. “Its work has been built over decades to undertake globally recognised high quality research on issues that matter deeply to Indian public life and policy making,” she said.

Some of the reasons given by the Centre for cancelling its the FCRA licence challenge the very basis of the functioning of a research institution, Aiyar said in a statement shared on X.

“This includes the publication on our website of policy reports emanating from our research being equated with current affairs programming,” she said.

On June 30, the Income Tax Department had cancelled the tax exemption status of the organisation. A tax exemption status can provide complete relief from taxes, reduced rates, or tax on only a portion of the an organisation’s income.

The Centre’s actions against Centre for Policy Research since 2022 have had a debilitating impact on the latter’s ability to function by choking all sources of funding, Aiyar said.

“This has undermined the institution’s ability to pursue its well established objective of producing high quality, globally recognised research on policy matters, which it has been recognised for over its 50 years’ existence,” she said. “During this time the institution has been home to some of the country’s most distinguished academics, diplomats and policymakers.”

Non-profit organisations have alleged that the Modi government is using the FCRA law to target them. The government had rejected Oxfam India’s application for renewal of its foreign funding licence in December 2021. After this, the organisation told the Delhi High Court that its application was declined in a “non-speaking/unreasoned cryptic” manner.