Smarter, tighter laws to clean Up NGO funding

After the massive crackdown against foreign-funded NGOs, the government is all set to choke the federal funding by eliminating the fake domestic voluntary organisations.

Published: 03rd June 2017 11:00 PM  |   Last Updated: 04th June 2017 10:18 AM   |  A+A-

NEW DELHI: After the massive crackdown against foreign-funded NGOs, the government is all set to choke the federal funding by eliminating the fake domestic voluntary organisations. Last month, bureaucrats from the Central ministries sat down to finalise the mechanism for regulation and ensuring that NGOs’ initiatives are constructive and in the interest of the country. Minutes of the meeting, accessed by The Sunday Standard, reveal that accreditation of NGOs will be done by respective departments through a broad-based committee on the basis of quantity and quality of work.

“The accreditation process shall include evaluating past track record of applicant and internal governance and ethical standard of the NGOs. Monitoring shall also include outcome evaluation through independent third parties and performance audit by the Comptroller & Auditor General of India,” the note said.

As far as disciplinary procedure against fake NGOs are concerned, the officials discussed the proposal to include terms and condition of sanction order, indicating action that could be initiated against the NGOs in case the funds are not properly utilised.

The government will not only blacklist such NGOs, it would also move to file civil suit for recovery of money siphoned off. It is planning to rope in Income Tax authorities for criminal conviction.

The guidelines for NGOs being finalised by the government propose three layers—Central, state and district—of monitoring. An officer from the department of empowerment of persons with disabilities observed that it might not be necessary to have a separate legislation to regulate NGOs since grants are released generally through some contracts, which is binding on both the parties.

The Supreme Court hearing a petition on NGOs in March had directed the government to indicate whether it shall regulate the issue by finalising the guidelines or would rather regulate the process through legislation.

J B Mohaptra, Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Science of Technology, raised a valid point in the meeting that NGOs as a category of organisations have not been defined specifically and the word itself is misnomer.

Another important suggestion made in the meeting was with reference to Article 19 (1) (c) of the Constitution of India. As per this article, Citizens have the right ‘to form associations and unions’ subject to reasonable restrictions in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states, public order etc.

“As such, government has to work with the NGOs with mutual trust and share responsibility. While framing guidelines for fund flow to NGOs and regulating their activities, it should be ensured that their initiatives which are constructive and in the interest of the country, are not over regulated,” the meeting notes said.

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