Andhra Pradesh based Christian NGOs named in FCRA Bribery FIR of CBI

The Central Bureau of Investigation has filed an FIR under the Prevention of Corruption Act naming 37 persons and NGOs as accused. The FIR follows raids made last week on offices of NGOs, middlemen, hawala operators and public servants. They have been charged under Sections 120B, 419,420,468,471 of IPC and various sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act. The case involves collusion between the accused in paying bribes to public servants for renewal of permission given to the NGOs for receiving contributions under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 2010. In addition, bribes were paid for revocation of suspension of permission or for clearing complaints lodged against these NGOs.

Two persons representing Christian Evangelist NGOs from Andhra Pradesh have been named in the FIR. At Sl.No. 27, Alfred Mohanty @ Chotta Mohanty administrator of CLC (Christian Life Centre Ministries) 15-127 Srinagar, Gajuwaka, Vishakhapatnam. He was acting on behalf of AMG India International, Chilakaluripeta of which his uncle Arun Kumar Kanti Mohanty @ Bada Mohanty is the President.

At Sl. No. 28, Kathera Suresh Kumar, representative of NGO Harvest India, Vijayawada. The FCRA permission of Harvest India was recently revoked following complaints lodged against the NGO.

The FIR lodged by CBI reveals a network of corrupt officials, middlemen and hawala operators indulging in corrupt practices. The network had two sets of modus operandi. In the first case, NGOs who were facing allegations of violations of FCRA and other laws of the country contacted the officials through middlemen for clearing allegations against them and get their suspension revoked or complaints closed without any penal action. In the second case, money was demanded by officials for the renewal of permission granted to the NGOs to receive FCRA funds. Even though the NGOs did not have irregularities or complaints against them and renewals were done in a regular manner, the fact of renewal was suppressed and the NGOs were called up by officials to pay bribes failing which they will be denied renewal.

The CBI FIR names Sri Alok Ranjan, presently working as Sr.AO, PAO, Census, Ministry of Home Affairs, and New Delhi who earlier worked in FCRA Division, Ministry of Home Affairs, as having entered into a criminal conspiracy with Sh. Ravi Shankar Ambastha of Delhi, and Sh. Manoj Kumar of Secunderabad, Telangana. They have been accused of obtaining bribes from NGOs for facilitating registration and renewal of registration under FCRA and for other FCRA-related works. They are also running a couple of firms in the name and style of M/s Immaculate Global Consultants (IGC) and M/s ASRA Foundation. Sh. Alok Ranjan is channelizing his ill-gotten money into M/s Mansi International Private Limited being jointly managed by his wife Ms. Manisha Verma. Besides taking cash themselves, they were taking cash deposits in the account of their employee.

In pursuance of the above-said conspiracy, on 02.04.2022 Sh. Ravi Shankar Ambastha contacted Mr. Alfred Mohanty administrator of CLC (Christian Life Centre Ministries). Alfred Mohanty was discussing the matter of pending complaints against their NGO AMG India International in which his uncle Mr. Arun Kumar Kanti Mohanty is the President of the said NGO. In this connection, Sh. Ambastha visited Vijayawada and Hyderabad in April 2022 and met Mr. Alfred Mohanty for settling the said matter of AMG India International. Mr. Alfred Mohanty agreed to pay an amount of Rs. 15 lacs as a bribe to FCRA officers for settling their matter. Later, Alfred Mohanty paid an amount of Rs. 5 Lakh as the first installment of negotiated bribe amount of Rs. 15 lakhs, on behalf of AMG India International and the second installment of Rs. 5 lakhs was to be paid on 09.05.2022.

According to the FIR, on 11.04.2022 Shri Ravi Shankar Ambastha informed Shri Alok Ranjan that the promoters of NGO Harvest India agreed to give Rs. 8 lakhs for withdrawal of suspension of their licence as well as renewal of the same. On 14.04.2022, Sh. Ravi Shankar Ambastha had visited Vijaywada for contacting Sh. Kathera Suresh Kumar, representative of the said NGO for finalisation of negotiation about demand and acceptance of bribe so that they may take up renewal of the suspended licence of Harvest India. On 17.04.2022, Shri Ravi Shankar Ambastha informed Shri Alok Ranjan that he collected Rs. 4 lakhs from Shri Suresh of Harvest India.

Legal Rights Protection Forum, Hyderabad had filed several complaints against the above mentioned NGOs. In its complaints, the Forum had alleged that the NGOs had indulged in compulsory Christian religious education to children studying in educational institutions run by the NGOs. In addition, recipients of aid from these NGOs were forced to undergo compulsory Christian religious preaching and prayers before they could receive any aid. AMG India International, Chilakaluripeta was accused of fabricating stories of thousands of children working in stone quarries having been rescued and rehabilitating them. The promotional videos of such children had caused enormous damage to the image of India in the eyes of the world. In addition, the AMG is also accused of forcing daily Christian prayers on children in their schools/ colleges. Even on Independence Day/ Republic Day, students were forced to hear Bible verses. Both NGOs are currently under investigation by National Commission for Protection of Child Rights for various abuses of child rights.

The details mentioned in the FIR reveal that NGOs who had collected money through FCRA from various donors abroad were ready to pay bribes to clear complaint against them. This is gross misuse of the donor money which has not used for noble causes as intended by them. This is a let-down of the donors from across the globe who had donated to these NGOs.