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New Delhi: Rajesh Ahuja,The Union home ministry was left red-faced on Thursday after sources revealed that the foreign funding license for
controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik’s NGO was quietly renewed despite opposing legal opinion.
As the news surfaced, four ministry officials were suspended, including the joint secretary in-charge of foreigners division, GK Dwivedi, sources added.
“We’re very clear that there should be smooth process of registration or renewal but not when there’s a case pending. The action against the under secretaries and section officer was due to their negligence in clearing the renewal while a case is still pending,” minister of state for home affairs, Kiren Rijiju tweeted late on Thursday.
The home ministry had sought the solicitor general of India’s opinion over declaring Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) unlawful under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. The ministry was told that Naik’s statements in different forums allegedly promoted enmity and hatred between religious groups and inspired and incited terrorists – grounds on which the government could proceed to blacklist the IRF.
Read | Legal opinion to home ministry suggests action against Zakir Naik
The Centre was deliberating over the opinion and gathering more evidence to support its case against the NGO. Once declared unlawful, the IRF will be unable to collect donations and enlist members for its functioning. Its assets can be also be attached to legal proceedings.
However, despite this opinion, the license was renewed in the third week of August under Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), the law that governs foreign funding of NGOs.
When the matter came to light, the ministry suspended the four officials from its foreigners division that deals with FCRA matters. They included two under secretaries and one section officer apart from Dwivedi. The joint secretary in-charge could not be reached for a comment.