Brief Overview

India is witnessing a surge in religious intolerance along with deprecating respect for rule of law, systemic attack on human rights defenders, who dissent and question on government’s policies and actions. Civil society orgainsations that work on human rights issues are being targeted using the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, through which, any organisation’s right to freedom of association and to access resource is being arbitrarily denied. Dissenters and human rights activists are being targeted with cases under draconian counter-terrorism legislations such as Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, National Security Act and sedition charges. The respect for constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights is seen to be fast eroding, can be seen through the acts of religious fanatic groups that enjoy the patronage of the present political dispensation in power, the Bharatiya Janatha Party. The government arbitrarily revoked the constitutional autonomy of the Muslim-majority erstwhile state of Jammu & Kashmir, by reducing it to three federally administered territories.

Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010

Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act is used by the government to target, supress the activities of civil society organisations by blocking their foreign funding registration. As per this law, every organisation that receives foreign funding should register with the Ministry of Home Affairs and the registration is renewed every four years. This law is being used to silence civil society organisation that work on human rights and developmental issues, and organisations that question government policies and actions.



20 May: Ensure FCRA accounts opened for NGOs within 10 days of MHA approval, Delhi HC to SBI

Delhi HC has asked SBI to ensure all FCRA accounts are opened within 10 days after receiving approval from Ministry of Home Affairs over complaints of delays in operationalizing the accounts by SBI. MHA as assured that it will act within 7 days of receiving the request to operationalize the accounts.

19 May: Govt extends FCRA registration date for NGOs till June 30

Ministry of Home Affairs issued an order extending the deadline for NGOs receiving foreign funds to open a bank account at SBI in Delhi to June 30 from March 31.

9 May: FCRA amendments crippling our work, say NGOs

An NGO has moved the Delhi HC seeking exemption under the 31 March deadline to open a bank account in State Bank of India, Delhi as its application was delayed due to administrative delays by the bank. NGOs without a bank account in Delhi have been crippled with this new rule promulgated in September 2020 for they are unable to mobilize themselves for COVID-19 recovery due to financial constraints.

10 March: Foreign funding certificates of 264 NGOs suspended in last five years

Under FCRA 2020, foreign certificates of 264 NGOs have been suspended whereas 8,353 such certificates were not renewed in the last five years according to data disclosed by the government.

9 February: MHA’s call to CAs on foreign funds use by NGOs.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has asked chartered accountants (CAs) to ensure that foreign funds are received and utilised by NGOs “within the four corners of law.”

29 January: India tightens oversignt on funds received by NGOs 

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has laid down a charter for banks that “donations received in Indian rupees” NGOs and associations from “any foreign source even if that source is located in India at the time of such donation” should be treated as “foreign contribution”.

As per the existing rules, all banks have to report to the Central government within 48 hours, the “receipt or utilisation of any foreign contribution” by any NGO, association or person whether or not they are registered or granted prior permission under the FCRA.



Unlawful Activities (Prevention Act), 1967

Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, originally introduced as a counter-terror legislation is now being misused against human rights defenders, dissenters of the government. As per the amendments to this law in 2019, even individuals can be designated as ‘terrorists’, which is now being used to target human rights defenders and portray them as ‘anti-nationals’. Arbitrary use of UAPA by the government is aimed at creating a chilling effect towards other human rights defenders. Sixteen human rights defenders have been arrested under this law in the Bhima Koregaon case.



10 May:

Jailed Pinjra Tod activist Natasha Narwal granted a three-week interim bail by Delhi High Court to conduct the last rites of her father, Mahavir Narwal, who passed away of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) a day ago. She was arrested in May 2020 for an alleged ‘premeditated conspiracy’ in the northeast Delhi riots from three months ago.

5-21 May: Bhima-Koregaon updates

Detainee Rona Wilson and Shoma Sen have filed a petition seeking to quash the sanction by the Maharastra government to prosecute them and for their release on bail for the prosecution’s case is entirely based on false evidence planted against them by hackers. The matter will be heard on 16 June.

On 12 May, the Supreme Court rejected detainee Gautam Navlakha’s bail plea filed after Mumbai HC quashed it. He had moved the court claiming that the NIA probing the case against him had failed to file the charge sheet within the stipulated 90-day period.

Families of detained rights activities have requested Maharashtra’s Chief Minister to release them on interim bail over a rapid surge in COVID-19 cases in India. Accused Hany Babu, who contracted COVID, was finally shifted to Breach Candy Hospital after getting an eye infection pursuant to Mumbai HC’s order on 19 May.

On 21 May, Mumbai High Court upheld the petition to transfer Sudha Bharadwaj to a hospital in Mumbai following deterioration in her health. The Court held that all prisoners have a right to their medical records, including information on the tests and medicines given to them.

28 April:  Supreme Court directs UP govt to shift arrested journalist Siddique Kappan to Delhi for Covid-19 treatment

Journalist Siddique Kappan has been transferred to AIIMS in Delhi  for COVID-19 treatment following Supreme Court’s orders which held that an accused’s right to life does not diminish at all while under trial. He was also allowed the liberty to approach an appropriate forum challenging his arrest or for any other relief. Kappan was arrested last year while on his way to Hathras to cover the gang-rape and murder of a 19-year-old Dalit woman whose cremation allegedly happened without the parents’ consent. 

23 April: Telangana bans 16 organisations accusing them of being fronts for CPI(Maoist)

16 organizations from Telangana alleged to be fronts for extremist and CPI-Maoist activities have been banned for a period of one year effective 30 March. Activists of the organizations are alleged to be guerillas colluding to wage war against the state. Rights activists have deemed this as repression of the state against those who raise a dissenting voice.

21 April: In Bhima-Koregaon case, new forensic report shows how hacker planted key files on accused’s computer

US-based Arsenal Consulting says a hacker planted incriminating files in detained activist Rona Wilson’s computer. The files have been used as key evidence against 16 lawyers, activists, and journalists arrested under UAPA after they took part in Bhima Koregaon celebrations.

12 April: Judicial harassment of HRD LaishramHerojit Singh

Human rights defender Laishram Herojit Singh, alias Sintha, arrested in Manipur and charged under UAPA for his alleged membership of a militant group. He has been released on bail. He is a growing vice against the increasingly powerful drugs nexus in the region.

31 March: National Investigation Agency raids residences of over 25 rights activists in Telangana

Houses of prominent human rights defenders and activists were raided by NIA on claims of their links with Maoists. NIA seized personal electronics and documents from the houses. This has been criticized as a ‘witch hunt’ as the HRDs and activists were challenging anti-democratic laws and entrenched social and patriarchal practices in Andhra Pradesh as well as whole of India.

9 March: Chhattisgarh: Civil Society Members Demand Release of Tribal Rights Activist Arrested Under ‘Naxal Charges’

Human rights defender and environmental activist Hidme Markam has been arrested for multitude of charges, including under UAPA 1967. Some 1,000 activists, academicians, and well-wishers have petitioned for her immediate and unconditional release.

09 February: Kashmiri man demanding son’s body charged under anti-terror law

Police charge seven people, including father of teenager killed by government forces, under the stringent UAPA for holding a demonstration in the village “demanding the return of his body”.

07 February: Three Maoist sympathisers held under UAPA

The Salem District Police arrested three Maoist sympathisers on charges of raising anti-government slogans during the funeral of ‘Maoist’ Manivasakam.


15 December: What is “Sikhs for Justice,” and why has NIA summoned many in a case against it?

Under sections of UAPA, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) registered a case in New Delhi against Sikhs for Justice (SFJ). From actors to singers and farm activists to journalists, the NIA has issued summons to over 40 persons in connection with the case registered against SFJ, inviting the ire of farm organisations who claim the government is targeting individuals opposing the three farm laws.

National Security Act, 1980

National Security Act, enacted first in 1980, empowers authorities for preventive detention of any person who is considered to be threat to national security. Certain provisions of this law are against fundamental rights mentioned in the Indian Constitution and international human rights law. Human rights defenders are being continuously targeted and incarcerated under this legislation by the Indian government under the guise of protecting national security.






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