Following the example of the Narendra Modi-government at the Centre, the state will also monitor the revenue of all non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and charitable trusts.
The state on Tuesday decided to make it mandatory for private institutions, individuals and NGOs to obtain prior permissions from the charity commissioner office before accepting any donations.
They must also submit a book of accounts later. Public charitable trusts were kept out of its purview.
The decision means that donations collected by Ganpati and dahi handi mandals and individuals will be now monitored, but temple trusts such as Sai Sansthan at Shirdi and the Siddhivinayak Mandir in Mumbai will not be affected. The decision will come into force as a law with the government amending the Maharashtra Public Trust Act. The decision was taken in the state cabinet meeting on Tuesday.
The amendment will ensure the donation is spent for a cause only, said a senior state official.
“All kinds of charitable trusts — private institutions, individuals and NGOs (other than the public trust) shall collect or cause to be collected any money, contribution, subscription of donation in cash or kind for religious or charitable purposes without prior permission from the deputy or assistant charity commissioner,” the decision states.
The permission will be provided in the form of a certificate, which will be valid for six months. The applicant shall have to submit accounts of such a collection within two months after the date of expiry of the certificate, a senior official said.
The offenders will have to face simple imprisonment extended up to six months and a fine, which will be 1.5 times the donation amount.
But before that, the charity commissioner officer will have to conduct a hearing of the complainant and the trust against which the complaint was filed.
The charity commissioner has also been empowered to attach the property of the offending trust, which can be auctioned against the penalty. The complainant can file appeal against the order with the HC in 90 days.
Prior permission will also not be needed for collecting donation in case of disaster, war, riots, accidents or similar cause. The trust or individual concerned will only have to intimate the charity commissioner office.
Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said the law is applicable for all the religious charitable trusts.
Dahi handi organisers feel that the decision will increase their work unnecessarily. Bala Padelkar, president, Dahi Handi Utsav Samanvay Samiti said, “The prior permission condition will add work in the functioning of the mandals. Currently, all of them submit accounts to the charity commissioner office on a regular basis. The only thing is that they have been doing this according to their convenience, but now once the law comes in to force they will have to do it in the given time frame,” Padelkar told HT.
Officials said once cleared by the state legislature, the legislation will be sent to the President for a final nod.