CBI raids human rights defender Harsh Mander’s NGO, office and residence; no arrest made 

Today morning the Central Bureau of Investigation raided the office and residence of Harsh Mander after the ministry of home affairs had last year recommended an inquiry for the alleged violation of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act by his non-governmental organisation Aman Biradari Trust.

TODAY, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) raided the office and residence of human rights defender, advocate, activist and former Indian Administrative Service officer Harsh Mander in Delhi.

Reportedly, the raids were made in connection with the foreign funding allegations under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 (FCRA) against Mander’s non-government organisation Aman Biradari Trust.

The FCRA registration allows the organisation to access foreign funding.

In 2002, after the Gujarat pogrom, Mander left government service and became a social activist. He founded the trust soon after that.

The trust works to provide livelihood legal support, and constitutional knowledge to people from different religions, castes and communities. It attempts to foster communal harmony and is a “people’s campaign for a secular, peaceful, just and humane world”.

Last March, the Union ministry of home affairs recommended a CBI inquiry into the trust for an allegation of violation of provisions of the FCRA.

As per reports, the CBI has not made any arrests. However, it has seized documents from his residence and office.

About FCRA

Activists have alleged that the FCRA is increasingly being invoked to suppress activism led by civil society organisations against the ruling government.

In the recent past, FCRA licences of over 5,000 organisations, including Oxfam India, the Oxfam India Trust, Missionaries of Charity, Independent and Public Spirited Media Foundation, Centre for Policy Research, Jamia Milia Islamia, Indian Social Action Forum, Lawyers Collective, Sabrang Trust, Greenpeace India, Amnesty International India, the Indian Medical Association, the India Islamic Cultural Centre and the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts have either been cancelled, not renewed, or suspended.

In 2017, the Finance Bill, was introduced, by which an amendment to the FCRA was made to introduce the electoral bond scheme through which political parties would receive funding.

As per statistics, between 2018 and 2022, 1,827 organisations were found to violate the FCRA provisions by the Union government.

In 2016, three United Nations human rights experts expressed their concerns over the FCRA being increasingly invoked to “obstruct civil society’s access to foreign funding” and stated that the law fails to comply with the “international human rights norms and standards”.