New Delhi: An NGO run by civil rights activist Teesta Stelvad, who has espoused the cause of Gujarat riot victims, was today banned from receiving foreign funds, with the Home Ministry cancelling its FCRA licence.
The Home Ministry issued an order saying that the central government has cancelled the permanent registration of Sabrang Trust run by Teesta and her husband Javed Anand with immediate effect.
The government argued that the foreign funds received by the NGO under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) licence had not been used for the purposes meant.
The order said that during inspection, the Home Ministry found that foreign contribution has been “frequently used” for items of “personal expenses e.g. for dining in hotels, food takeaways ordered at their residences, cakes and sweets from premium outlets, purchase of purely personal items like ear-buds, wet wipes, clippers, sanitary napkins by both Teesta and Anand, which have been reimbursed to the trustees from FCRA account.”
Sabrang Trust has spent an amount of Rs 50 lakh for Sabrang Communications & Publishing Pvt Limited (SCPPL), of which Teesta and Anand are working as directors, co-editors, printers and publisher, “clearly violating the mandate of the FCRA,” the MHA order said.
“By this action, the NGO has not only unauthorisedly utilised the foreign contribution for the purposes of an unregistered entity but also that entity being a self-owned media and publication company, utilised that amount for activities totally prohibited by FCRA,” it added.
The order said the NGO had transferred an amount of Rs 2.46 lakh from its foreign contribution designated account to Sabrang Trust domestic account, thus mixing of domestic and foreign funds and violating the rules.
Sabrang Trust has made direct payments of approximately Rs 12 lakh from FCRA designated account to Citi Bank and Union Bank of India on account of credit cards belonging to Teesta and Anand respectively.
The cards are issued in the name of the individuals and the above payments of the foreign contribution shall be treated to have been used for personal gain, the Home Ministry said.