Section XVI

Organisation Of Political Nature

Section XVI

Question 262

What is an organisation of political nature?

Answer: Section 5(1) of FCRA, 2010 is reproduced below:

(1) The Central Government may, having regard to the activities of the organisation or the ideology propagated by the organisation or the programme of the organisation or the association of the organisations with the activities of any political party, by an order published in the Official Gazette, specify such organisation as an organisation of a political nature not being a political party, referred to in clause (f) of sub-section (1) of section 3:

 

            Provided that the Central Government may, by rules made by it, frame the guidelines specifying the ground or grounds on which an organisation shall be specified as an organisation of a political nature.

 

(2) Before making an order under sub-section (1), the Central Government shall give the organisation in respect of whom the order is proposed to be made, a notice in writing informing it of the ground or grounds, on which it is proposed to be specified as an organisation of political nature under that sub-section.

 

(3)  The organisation to whom a notice has been served under sub-section (2), may, within a period of thirty days from the date of the notice, make a representation to the Central Government giving reasons for not specifying such organisation as an organisation under sub-section (1):

 

            Provided that the Central Government may entertain the representation after the expiry of the said period of thirty days, if it is satisfied that the organisation was prevented by sufficient cause from making the representation within thirty days.

 

(4)  The Central Government may, if it considered it appropriate, forward the representation referred to in sub-section (3) to any authority to report on such representation.

 

(5)  The Central Government may, after considering the representation and the report of the authority referred to in sub-section (4), specify such organisation an organisation of a political nature not being a political party and make an order under sub-section (1) accordingly.

 

(6)  Every order under sub-section (1) shall be made within a period of one hundred and twenty days from the date of issue of notice under sub-section (2):

 

            Provided that in case no order is made within the said period of one hundred and twenty days, the Central Government shall, after recording the reasons therefor, make an order under sub-section (1) within a period of sixty days from the expiry of the said period of one hundred and twenty days.

Question 263

What are the guidelines for declaring an organisation as ‘an organisation of a political nature’, not being a political party?

Answer: The guidelines, as given in Rule 3 of FCRR, 2011, are reproduced below:

“3(1)[1] The Central Government may specify an organisation as organisation of political nature on one or more of the following grounds‒

 

(i)        any organisation having avowed political objectives in its Memorandum of Association or bylaws;

(ii)       any Trade Union whose objectives include activities for promoting political goals;

 

(iii)      any voluntary action group with objectives of a political nature or which participates in political activities;

(iv)      front or mass organisations like Students Unions, Workers’ Unions, Youth Forums and Women’s wing of a political party;

 

(v)       organisation of farmers, workers, students, youth based on caste, community, religion, language or otherwise, which is not directly aligned to any political party, but whose objectives, as stated in the Memorandum of Association, or activities gathered through other material evidence, include steps towards advancement of political interests of such groups;

 

(vi)      any organisation, by whatever name called, which habitually engages itself in or employs common methods of political action like ‘bandh’ or ‘hartal’, ‘rasta roko’, ‘rail roko’ or ‘jail bharo’ in support of public causes.

 

3(2)[2]   The organisations specified under clauses (v) and (vi) of sub-rule (1) shall be considered to be of political nature, if they participate in active politics or party politics, as the case may be.

 

[1] The Guidelines for declaration of ‘an organisation to be of political nature, not being a political party’ as enunciated in Rule 3(1) of FCRR, 2011 were framed in terms of the proviso to Section 5(1) of FCRA, 2010.

 

[2] Sub-rule 3(2) has been inserted vide Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Rules, 2020 [G.S.R. 695(E) dated 10th November, 2020].  In this context, interested readers may please see the Judgement dated the 6th March, 2020 of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the Civil Appeal No. 1510 of 2020 (Arising out of SLP(C) No. 33928 of 2011) in the case of Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF) vs. Union of India.

 

Question 264

Could a non-political organisation be declared as an organisation of political nature?

Answer: Yes. Even a non-political organisation could be declared as an organisation of political nature if, the Government determines that the organisation attracts any of the grounds specified in Rule 3 of the FCRR 2011. Therefore, organisations desirous of receiving FC should not have avowed political objectives in their Memoranda of Association or bylaws and should not participate in any active politics or get involved in activities that may be perceived as party politics. ​

Question 265

Will working with Panchayat be treated as political activity?

Answer: ‘Panchayat’ is included in the definition of Legislature vide Section 2(1)(k)(G).  Therefore, if an organisation sets up candidate(s) for Panchayat election or tries to determine/constitute the Panchayat, then it may be treated as an activity of political nature.  Collaborating with Panchayat in activities for the village development may not be construed as a violation.

Question 266

What happens if an organisation is declared as ‘an organisation of a political nature’?

Answer: An ‘organisation of a political nature’ is prohibited from accepting any foreign contribution vide Section 3(1)(f) of FCRA, 2010.  ​

Question 267

What are the procedures followed by the Government for declaring an organisation as ‘an organisation of a political nature’?

Answer: The procedures, as specified in Section 5 of FCRA, 2010 read with Rule 3 of FCRR, 2011, are as under‒

(i)        Before making an order under Section 5(1) of FCRA, 2010, the Central Government shall give the organisation in respect of whom the order is proposed to be made, a notice in writing informing it of the ground(s) specified in Rule 3 of FCRR, 2011, on which it is proposed to be declared as an organisation of political nature.

(ii)       The organisation on which a notice has been served may, within a period of 30 days from the date of the notice, make a representation to the Central Government giving reasons for not specifying it as an organisation of political nature.  However, the Central Government may entertain the representation after the expiry of the said period of 30 days, if it is satisfied that the organisation was prevented by sufficient cause from making the representation within 30 days. 

(iii)      The Central Government may, if it considered it appropriate, forward the representation to any authority to submit a report on the representation.

(iv)      The Central Government may, after considering the representation and the report of the authority referred above, specify such organisation an organisation of a political nature not being a political party and make an order accordingly.   

(v)       Every order under Section 5(1) of FCRA, 2010 shall be made within a period of 120 days from the date of issue of notice to the organisation. 

            Provided that in case no order is made within the said period of 120 days, the Central Government shall, after recording the reasons therefor, make an order under Section 5(1) of the Act within a period of 60 days from the expiry of the said period of 120 days.

Question 268

When does the order of the Central Government declaring ‘an organisation of a political nature’ become effective? 

Answer: As per Section 5(1) of FCRA, 2010, the order declaring an organisation as ‘an organisation of a political nature’ has to be first published in the Official Gazette.  Thereafter, in terms of Section 49 of FCRA, 2010, that notification in the Official Gazette shall have to be laid, as soon as may be after it is made, before each House of Parliament.  If both the Houses of the Parliament agree in making any modification in the order or agree that the order should not be made, the order shall have effect only in such modified form or be of no effect, as the case may be.  Section 49 of FCRA, 2010 is reproduced below‒ 

“49.  Every order made under section 5 and every rule made by the Central Government under this Act shall be laid, as soon as may be after it is made, before each House of Parliament while it is in session for a total period of 30 days which may be comprised in one session or in two or more successive sessions, and if, before the expiry of the session immediately following the session or the successive sessions aforesaid, both Houses agree in  making any  modification in the order or rule or both Houses agree that the order or rule should not be made, the order or rule shall thereafter have effect only in such modified form or be of no effect, as the case may be; so, however, that any such modification or annulment shall be without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done under that order or rule.”

In view of Section 49 of FCRA, 2010, an order declaring an organisation as ‘an organisation of a political nature’ becomes effective only after it is laid before both the Houses of the Parliament and if the Parliament does not modify or annul that order.

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