Govt refutes AI’s claim of ‘witch-hunt’, calls it a ploy to divert attention from illegalities
New Delhi: The Union Home Ministry on Tuesday strongly refuted Amnesty International’s allegation that it was being subjected to an “incessant witch-hunt”, saying India, by settled law, does not allow interference in domestic political debates by entities funded by foreign donations.
Coming down heavily on the organisation, the ministry also said all the “glossy statements” about humanitarian work and speaking truth to power are nothing but a “ploy to divert attention” from their activities which were in clear contravention of laid down Indian laws.
The Amnesty International’s statement was “unfortunate, exaggerated and far from the truth,” the home ministry said.
“Such statements are also an attempt to extraneously influence the course of investigations by multiple agencies into the irregularities and illegalities carried out over the last few years,” the home ministry said in a detailed statement.
The home ministry said the Amnesty International had received permission under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) only once and that too 20 years ago, on December 19, 2000.
Since then the organisation, despite its repeated applications, has been denied FCRA approval by successive governments since as per law it is not eligible for it. However, in order to circumvent the FCRA regulations, Amnesty UK remitted large amounts of money to four entities registered in India by classifying it as Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
A significant amount of foreign money was also remitted to Amnesty (India) without MHA’s approval under the FCRA.
“This mala fide rerouting of money was in contravention of extant legal provisions,” it said.
Owing to these illegal practices of Amnesty, the previous government had also rejected the repeated applications of Amnesty to receive funds from overseas, the home ministry said.
This had led Amnesty to suspend its India operations once during that period as well.
The home ministry said this bipartisan and purely legal approach towards Amnesty, under different governments, makes it clear that the entire fault lies in the dubious processes adopted by Amnesty to secure funds for its operations.
“The stand taken and the statements made by Amnesty International are unfortunate, exaggerated and far from the truth,” the home ministry said.
The home ministry said Amnesty is free to continue humanitarian work in India, as is being done by many other organisations.
“However, India, by settled law, does not allow interference in domestic political debates by entities funded by foreign donations. This law applies equally to all and it shall apply to Amnesty International as well,” the home ministry statement said.
“India has a rich and pluralistic democratic culture with a free press, independent judiciary and a tradition of vibrant domestic debate,” it said.
“The people of India have placed unprecedented trust in the current government,” the home ministry said.
“The Amnesty’s failure to comply with local regulations does not entitle them to make comments on the democratic and plural character of India,” it said.