The Centre’s proposed guidelines to regulate working of NGOs would make it mandatory for such organisations to register themselves with Niti Aayog – a government think tank that provides inputs for public policy.
The NDA government – which has already tightened the noose around some NGOs - submitted the draft guidelines to the Supreme Court on Wednesday. A bench headed by Chief Justice JS Khehar is hearing a PIL regarding non action against NGOs, receiving government funds, for not filing their audits before the authority concerned.
“The existing portal at Niti Aayog (NGO-Darpan) shall be strengthened and aligned with accredition-like functions which should also provide a snapshot of the NGO with regard to its ongoing and past work, particularly with respect to public and foreign funds so as to facilitate grant making authorities on the bonafides,” the affidavit said.
As per the new guidelines, an NGO will be blacklisted if it provides false and misleading information to the Centre. Additional solicitor general Tushar Mehta submitted before the bench that the draft guidelines for NGOs will be finalised in two weeks.
The court turned to senior counsel Rakesh Dwivedi, who is assisting the bench in the case, and asked him to have a look at the guidelines to give his response. Petitioner and advocate ML Sharma was also asked to do the same.
Under the stringent guidelines NGOs would be provided a unique ID and subjected to the Income Tax Act and Foreign Contribution Regulations act. They would be granted accreditation after their internal governance and ethical standards are evaluated.
Past record of NGOs too would be scrutinized before they are given accreditation. A three-tier scrutiny would be in place to evaluate utilization of funds and the process would also include quality of work done by the NGOs.
It would be mandatory for the NGOs to execute a bond to refund the amount with 10% interest if they fail to execute the project for which the grant is allocated. Misappropriation of funds would invite both criminal and civil cases.
The government took to framing new guidelines after the top court on the last hearing pulled it up for not having a regulatory mechanism to monitor the funds and their utilization by the NGOs, societies and voluntary organizations. Asking the government to take criminal and civil action against them, the bench had prodded the government to frame new guidelines.
Centre was asked to submit an action taken report before the court on the proceedings initiated against the defaulting NGOs, which the government did not do on Wednesday. It might place the report on the next hearing scheduled after two weeks.
(With inputs from PTI)