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Thursday, July 13, 2017

Govt seeks four weeks to consider law to regulate NGOs' fund utilisation

The government on Wednesday sought four weeks' time to consider framing a law to systematise the accreditation, fund utilisation and audit of nearly 30 lakh NGOs and voluntary organisations in the country, and possibly, arming authorities with penalising powers in case of any default.

Appearing before a Bench led by Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar, Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said a decision has to be taken at the highest level regarding this issue.

In April, the Bench had suggested the framing of a separate law after perusing draft guidelines made by the government appointing NITI Aayog as nodal agency for NGOs.

The Ministry of Rural Development had framed the accreditation guidelines to regulate "manner in which the VOs/NGOs, which are recipient of grants, would maintain their account, the procedure for audit of the account, including procedure to initiate action for recovering of the grants in case of misappropriation and criminal action".

The court had given the government liberty to start civil and criminal proceedings against defaulting NGOs.

It was submitted in court that 718 NGOs had been initially blacklisted, but 15 had responded satisfactorily to notices issued on them.

CBI records filed in 2016 in the Supreme Court had shown show that only 2, 90,787 NGOs file annual financial statements of a total of 29,99,623 registered ones under the Societies Registration Act. That is, merely a 10 percent.

In some States, the CBI said the laws do not even provide for the NGOs to be transparent about their financial dealings. In the Union Territories, of a total of 82,250 NGOs registered and functioning, only 50 file their returns.

New Delhi has the highest number of registered NGOs among the Union Territories at 76,566. But none of these organisations submit returns, the CBI chart showed. In Kerala, which has 3,69,137 NGOs, there is no legal provision to submit returns. The same is the case for Punjab with 84,752 and Rajasthan with 1.3 lakh NGOs.

Among other States, Uttar Pradesh, which has the highest number of NGOs at 5.48 lakh among 26 States, has only about 1.19 lakh filing returns. Tamil Nadu has about 1.55 lakh NGOs registered, however, only 20,277 file returns. Andhra Pradesh has 2.92 lakh NGOs, but only 186 file financial statements annually. West Bengal has 2.34 lakh registered NGOs, of which only 17,089 active NGOs file annual returns.

Source: http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/govt-seeks-four-weeks-to-consider-law-to-regulate-ngos-fund-utilisation/article19263239.ece

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