New Delhi: The Union home ministry has ordered a probe by several security agencies into alleged misuse and embezzlement of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) funds by NGOs associated with the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI).

The probe was ordered after several instances of suspected largescale misuse of funds received under the FCRA came to light in Jharkhand. Allegations range from CBCI fathers investing FCRA money into mutual funds and speculating in shares, to a scam in buying saplings for reforestation at highly inflated prices.

The CBCI is also accused of having used the funds to illegally buy acres of land, sometimes from tribals in Jharkhand, which is prohibited under the Chota Nagpur Tenancy Act.

The CBCI could not be contacted despite repeated calls.

In response to a complaint made by rights activist Vinay Joshi, who runs the Legal Rights Observatory (LRO), the home ministry said: “Case is pending for want of report from security agencies and action per the act will be taken on receipt of a report from security agencies”.

In his complaint, Joshi cited several cases against CBCI and other church-sponsored NGOs.

“We can sense the quantum of the gross irregularities, corruption, embezzlement of funds, money laundering and misuse of funds within by The Catholic Bishop's Conference of India's pan-India apparatus. The CBCI siphoned funds received through FCRA and state and Central government's social development departments,” Joshi told MyNation.
“So I have requested the home ministry that they immediately suspend FCRA registration of all NGOs, trusts, societies under CBCI with immediate effect and order CBI inquiry of fund allocations, apart from a detailed income tax and ED inquiry of all incumbent and former office-bearers of CBCI,” Joshi added.

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