CBI searches Amnesty offices in two cities, rights body says it’s harassment

Central Bureau of Investigation on Friday raided the headquarters of Amnesty International India in Bengaluru.

The CBI Friday searched offices of Amnesty India in Bengaluru and New Delhi, saying it was acting on an FIR registered after a complaint from the Ministry of Home Affairs about alleged violation of provisions of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act and the Indian Penal Code by the rights body.

Confirming the searches, Amnesty India, in a press release, said: “Over the past year, a pattern of harassment has emerged every time Amnesty India stands up and speaks out against human rights violations in India. Amnesty India stands in full compliance with Indian and international law. Our work in India, as elsewhere, is to uphold and fight for universal human rights. These are the same values that are enshrined in the Indian Constitution and flow from a long and rich Indian tradition of pluralism, tolerance, and dissent.”

“As part of the Nobel Prize-winning movement, Amnesty India holds itself to the highest evidentiary standards. Over four million Indians have supported Amnesty India’s work in the last six years and around 100,000 Indians have made financial contributions. Our work in India, as elsewhere, is to uphold universal human rights and build a global movement of people who take injustice personally,” it said.

A CBI official said the searches were based on an FIR registered on November 5 against Amnesty International India Pvt Ltd (AIIPL), Indians for Amnesty International Trust (IAIT), Amnesty International India Foundation Trust (AIIFT), Amnesty International South Asia Foundation (AISAF) and unknown others.

“The Home Ministry complaint said FCRA and IPC laws were contravened by the entities by receiving foreign contributions from Amnesty International UK through AIIPL even though prior registration or permission was denied to AIIFT and other trusts under FCRA,” the official said, adding that the alleged contravention reported totalled Rs 36 crore.

According to the Home Ministry complaint, AIIPL is a for-profit company, and London-based Amnesty International worked through four companies — named by the CBI in the FIR.

The complaint alleged that a payment of Rs 10 crore, classified as FDI, was remitted to Amnesty India from the London office without taking the Home Ministry’s approval. Another Rs 26 crore, the complaint stated, had been remitted to Amnesty India “primarily from the UK-based entities”.

While forwarding the complaint, the Ministry directed the CBI to involve the Income Tax department and Enforcement Directorate in case violation of relevant laws was detected during the investigation.