Stating that existing regulations were not enough, the Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Centre to consider enacting a law to regulate NGOs and penalise them for swindling funds.
A bench led by Chief Justice of India J S Khehar sought a reply in eight weeks on “whether the government would like to regulate the issues in hand by finalising guidelines or would rather regulate the NGOs through legislative measures”.
The bench, also comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and S K Kaul, added: “If the government desires to extend statutory status to the entire process, the requirement of the statute would not only formulate for future consequences but would also envisage civil and criminal actions, as may be considered appropriate by the legislature.”
The court was of the view that guidelines prepared by the government may not be “truly systematic” and sufficient with regard to the entire process of accreditation and the manner of utilisation of funds and audit of the NGOs.
The government had earlier submitted its guidelines, saying it appointed NITI Aayog as nodal agency for registration of NGOs. The guidelines included the procedure for execution of bond, termination of grant-in-aid, blacklisting of NGOs, recovery of the money by civil suit and subsequent criminal action in case of diversion or misappropriation of funds, among others.
The court, however, said the NITI Aayog could already be preoccupied with several other important works.
It also made it clear that its order would not be considered as restraint on the government from initiating civil and criminal actions against as many as 703 NGOs which the Council for Advancement of People’s Action and Rural Technology (CAPART) under the Ministry of Rural Development has identified as defaulting.
In an affidavit filed in response to a PIL by Delhi lawyer M L Sharma, CAPART said it had recommended registration of 159 FIRs against various NGOs for alleged misappropriation or misuse of funds disbursed to them.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines