Govt Revokes Tax Exemption Status of 4 More NGOs, 'Protest Against Adani' Reason for 2 Removals – The Wire

A top official at one of the NGOs told Newslaundry, 'I think the order has nothing to do with our behaviour as an organisation. It is just that raising questions against the industries in India has become illegal now.'
Representative image of an anti-Adani protest. Photo: John Englart/Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED
New Delhi: The Income Tax department has revoked the tax exemption status of four more non-governmental organisations (NGOS) with the revocation for two of the NGOs having been linked to protests against the Adani Group.
The tax exemption status of Oxfam India, CARE India, Legal Initiative for Forest and Environment, and Environics Trust, was revoked about two weeks ago, Newslaundry reported.
In July this year, the tax exemption status of public policy think tank Centre for Policy Research was also revoked.
According to the I-T department’s letter to Oxfam India and Environics Trust, one of the reasons given for the move was the alleged “non-alignment” of the NGOs’ activities with its “objectives” in connection with the Adani group, the report said.
The I-T department has accused Oxfam India of being “involved in the activity of submission to UN Global Impact to delist Adani Ports, which is not as per the objects of the assessee”. 
In the letter to Environics Trust, the department said that the trust collaborated with the Mineral Inheritors Right Association for protesting against Jindal Steel Works and Adani Coal Projects in Odisha and that it was “not as per the objects of the Trust”. 
Also read: Amidst Cancellations Of Thousands Of NGOs’ Licences, Ram Mandir Trust Applies For FCRA Licence
Apart from reasons mentioned above, the income tax department’s letter to Oxfam said the NGO was “involved in questioning the integrity of the government and discussing political issues in the meeting, which do not align with the objects of the assessee”. It also alleged that the organisation was “working for the benefit of a particular community,” NewsLaundry reported. 
In the letter to Environics Trust, the department said the organisation was “involved in Dhinkia protests against JSW Plants”.  
Residents of Dhinkia village in Odisha were protesting against the transfer of over 1,000 hectares of land to Jindal Steel Works for setting up a 13.2 million tonnes steel plant unit. 
They had alleged that the project and the corporate takeover of the land will lead to the devastation of livelihoods of over 40,000 villagers and will impact three villages of Dhinkia, Nuagaon and Gadakujang in the district.
‘Raising questions against industries has become illegal’
Officials at CARE India and LIFE chose not to comment on the revocation of their tax status. An official at the former told Newslaundry that they did not want to divulge any specifics from the I-T department’s letter fearing backlash
While officials at LIFE said that they were “currently studying the options and have no specific comments to make”, those at Environics said they were likely to challenge the Income Tax Order in the court coming week. 
Ramamurthi Sreedhar, earth scientist and member of the core working team at the trust said, “I think the order has nothing to do with our behaviour as an organisation. It is just that raising questions against the industries in India has become illegal now.”  
The revocation of tax status has come amid an ongoing attack on NGOs across the country which, according to civil society members and political analysts, is an attempt to suppress organisations that are critical of the government. 
In September 2022, the I-T department had surveyed the offices of Oxfam India, Care India, Life, Environics Trust, CPR and Independent and Public Spirited Media Foundation (IPSMF), NewsLaundry reported. 
A top official at CARE India told NewsLaundry, “This raid was a part of a plot by the government. As part of a tax survey in 2022, they seized our computers and laptops, kept our staff locked in the Delhi office for 72 hours. Our staff was not allowed to go out. And not just Delhi, but our offices in Mumbai and Surat were also raided.” 
The FCRA licences (under the Foreign Contribution Regulations Act) of Oxfam, LIFE and Environics Trust have already been cancelled. 


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