TTD paid penality under FCRA act

The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) paid a penalty of Rs 3 crore imposed on it by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs for allegedly violating norms of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) in receiving foreign contributions through the temple ‘hundi’ and utilising the same.

Sources said the MHA had slapped a fine of Rs 10 crore on TTD. However, following negotiations between the FCRA regulating body and the temple Trust, the final amount was fixed at Rs 3 crore. TTD chairman YV Subba Reddy said, “We have informed the ministry that the TTD does not have any window to attract, receive or seek foreign contributions other than the hundi where voluntary contributions are made.”

Confirming that the fine was paid, Subba Reddy explained that the MHA had pointed out certain irregularities in receiving foreign contributions by the TTD.

It was also learnt that the Union Ministry found fault with the manner in which the TTD had utilised foreign contributions. Further, it was reported that the MHA had raised objections over the utilisation of interest earned through the foreign contributions by the TTD. It may be noted that using foreign donations is not permitted as per the FCRA norms.

There were some discrepancies in converting foreign contributions into Indian currency, besides deviation in spending the same for which certain rules and regulations are prescribed. Though the amount spent was meagre, the MHA objected to the manner in which the foreign contributions were spent,” TTD chairman added.

It may be recalled that the TTD has been seeking renewal of its FCRA registration for the past three years. The TTD, which manages the affairs of Lord Venkateswara temple in Tirumala, and the State government had been actively pursuing the matter with the Centre for renewing FCRA registration, but in vain. The TTD had received FCRA registration in 2008 and 2012. But the registration had lapsed due to TTD’s delay in getting it renewed.

Sources added that the temple Trust’s FCRA registration was kept in abeyance owing to technical discrepancies and not due to misutilisation of funds. In a period of five years ending March 2023, the temple Trust has accumulated foreign currency worth Rs 30 crore.

The State Bank of India refused to deposit foreign donations stating that identity of the donors was not known. As per the amendments made to FCRA in 2020, NGOs are required to deposit foreign contributions in an SBI account. Following this, the TTD had written to the Centre, stating the FCRA did not specify the process for contributions received in a ‘Hundi.’

“We have clarified on all issues raised by the MHA in regard to FCRA violations and assured that the norms would be followed hereafter. We are hopeful that the registration gets renewed and path to receiving foreign contributions would be cleared soon,” he added.