FCRA Registration in India
FCRA Registration Procedure:-
Under Section 6 of FCRA, it is clearly provided that any organization having a definite cultural/ social/ educational/ religious/ economic object shall only accept foreign contribution after satisfying two conditions :
(i) It must registers itself with the Central Government.
(ii) It must agree to receive foreign contribution only through one specific bank account.
The statutory provision
Provisions under section 6(1) and 6(1-A) are as under :
“Certain associations and persons receiving foreign contribution to give intimation to the Central Government : (1) No association [other than an organization referred to in sub-section (1) of section 5] having a definite cultural, economic, educational, religious or social programme shall accept foreign contribution unless such association—
(a) registers itself with the Central Government in accordance with the rules made under this Act ; and
(b) agrees to receive such foreign contributions only through such one of the branches of a bank as it may specify in its application for such registration,
and every association so registered shall give, within such time and in such manner as may be prescribed, an intimation to the Central Government as to the amount of each foreign contribution received by it, the source from which and the manner in which such foreign contribution was received and the purposes for which and the manner in which such foreign contribution was utilized by it :
Provided that where such association obtains any foreign contribution through any branch other than the branch of the bank through which it has agreed to receive foreign contribution or fails to give such intimation within the prescribed time or in the prescribed manner, or gives any intimation which is false, the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, direct that such association shall not, after the date of issue of such notification, accept any foreign contribution without the prior permission of the Central Government. (I-A) Every association referred to in sub-section (1) may, if it is not registered with the Central Government under that sub-section, accept any foreign contribution only after obtaining the prior permission of the Central Government and shall also give, within such time and in such manner as may be prescribed, an intimation to the Central Government as to the amount of foreign contribution received by it, the source from which and the manner in which such foreign contribution was received and the purposes for which and the manner in which such foreign contribution was utilized by it.”
As per the provisions of Section 6 no association is entitled to receive foreign contribution unless it has either registered itself or has obtained prior permission.
Organization must already be registered - Only those organisations are eligible for registration under FCRA, which are registered under Society Registration Act, 1860, the companies Act, 1956, the Bombay Public Trust Act, 1950 or as a public trust under general law. Though FCRA does not distinguish between registered and unregistered organisations, but the implications of section 6(1) virtually ensures that only register organisations would be able to get themselves registered as a legal entity under FCRA. Section 6(1) categorically specifies that organisation having a definite cultural, economic, educational, religious or social programme shall only accept foreign contribution. In the absence of registration and written documentation, it may not be possible for an organisation to prove definiteness of its aims and objectives.
Specification of bank branch - Sub-section (1)(b) of section 6 of FCRA further specifies that the foreign contribution should only be received from one of the branches of a bank as specified in the application. It is necessary to open a bank account designated for receipt of foreign contribution. The account can be opened with Indian funds before applying for registration. It may be noted that, subsequently, this account should exclusively remain for crediting foreign contribution only. Under no circumstance domestic contribution should be mixed in this account. This foreign contribution does not necessarily mean foreign currency or exchange, and therefore an organisation may receive foreign contribution in Indian currency as subsequently receivable or otherwise, within the scope of FCRA
Preventing acceptance of contributions - The proviso to section 6(1) states the circumstances under which the Central Government may prevent the organisation from accepting foreign contribution without prior permission. The circumstances are :
(i) the organisation receives foreign funds from an account other that the branch of the bank through which it had agreed to receive at the time of registration.
(ii) The organisation fails to give intimation within the prescribed time or in the prescribed manner.
(iii) The organisation gives any intimation which is false.
If the organisation commits any of the above-mentioned violations, then the Central Government may by notification, direct such organisation to receive foreign funds only after taking prior permission. It may be noted that the proviso to section 6(1) uses the word “may” thereby implying it to be a discretionary power in the lands of the Central Government which it has to exercise in a just and fair manner, keeping in view the facts and circumstances of each case.
Forms for registration - Organisations desirous of registering themselves with the FCRA department are required to apply in Form FC-8 along with various documents.
Documents required for FCRA Registration:-
The following documents must be filed for obtaining registration:
1. Form FC-8 duly filled up in triplicate.
2. Audited statement of accounts of past three years.
3. Annual Report specifying activities of past 5 years.
4. Detail of the beneficiaries and detail of the socio-economic factors of the region in which the NGO is working.
5. List and geographical detail of the state, and districts proposed for work.
6. Certified copy of the Registration Certificate.
7. Certified copy of the Bye-laws and Memorandum and Article of Association whichever is applicable.
8. Copy of certificates of exemption or registration issued by the Income Tax Department u/s. 80G and 12A.
9. Copy of any prior permission granted to the organisation.
10. Copy of resolution of Governing Body of the organisation, authorising the registration under FCRA.
11. Copy of Power of Attorney or the resolution of Governing Body by which the Chief Functionary is authorised to submit FC-8.
12. List of present members of the Governing Body of the organisation and the office bearers.
13. Copy of any Journal or other publication of the organisation.
14. If the association is having any parent or sister or subsidiary organisation, which is registered under the FCRA then the registration number along with Ministry of Home Affairs file number should be mentioned.
15. If the association has submitted any application earlier then its reference number should be mentioned.
16. If the association has received any foreign contribution with or without the prior approval of the Central Government, then the detail should be given.
It may be noted that the onus of getting registered under FCRA lies on the association and therefore before accepting foreign contribution, it is the responsibility of association to ensure all the requisite formalities are complied with and registration is granted before accepting any foreign exchange.
Time limit for granting registration:-
There is no time limit mentioned under the FCRA either for granting or rejecting the application. Normally, the application is expected to be processed within a period of six months but it is found that applications for registration are delayed for even two to three years. The FCRA guidelines available on the website of the Ministry of Home Affairs provide that the certificates from recommending activities (District Collector, etc.) are very important and help in expending the process of registration. In the absence of a prescribed time limit, it is expected that the authority should dispose of the application within a reasonable time. The duration of such reasonable time will depend upon the prevailing facts and circumstances.