NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday expressed concern over lack of laws to regulate the mind-boggling funds Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) get annually and said it might direct the Law Commission to look into the functioning of 29.99 lakh NGOs in the country.
“This is a major problem. They are getting money from all over the world. Mind-boggling,” Chief Justice of India T S Thakur observed while appointing senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi as amicus curiae to assist it in finding a way to deal with the issue and, if necessary, refer to the Law Commission.
“We can refer to the Law Commission to bring a law to control the NGOs, at least for the future, we want to know whether we can do some exercise to regulate these organisations,” the Supreme Court remarked while scheduling the next hearing for September 19.
The court was hearing a plea by advocate M L Sharma who contended that 80 per cent of the NGOs get foreign funds and that retired government employees and politicians run these NGOs drawing on their influence.
On this, the CJI said, “What is an NGO? Anyone can register a society and it becomes an NGO. There is no legal brainwork done at the Central level to control them. Unless some mechanism is put in place centrally, nothing can be done.”
According to the affidavit filed by the CBI in the Supreme Court last year, there were a total of around 31 lakh NGOs in 26 states. Karnataka, Odisha and Telangana are yet to provide information about the number of NGOs, so the total number of NGOs will be more than 31 lakh. Besides, more than 82,000 NGOs are registered in seven Union Territories.
Among the states, Uttar Pradesh tops the list with more than 5.48 lakh NGOs, followed by Maharashtra which has 5.18 lakh NGOs. Kerala comes third with 3.7 lakh NGOs, followed by West Bengal with 2.34 lakh NGOs. Of the 82,250 NGOs in the Union Territories, Delhi alone has more than 76,000. Less than 10 per cent of the NGOs have complied with the requirement of submitting balance sheets and income-expenditure statements with the Registrar of Societies.
Of around 30 lakh NGOs, 2.9 lakh have submitted financial statements. In Kerala, none of the 3.7 lakh NGOs have filed details since the State law does not mandate it. In Maharashtra and West Bengal, only around 7 per cent of NGOs have been filing such details. Other states also had poor records.