Centre hands over to SC accreditation guidelines for NGOs, VOs

They contain details such as maintenance of accounts, audit and recovery proceedings

The Centre on Wednesday handed over to the Supreme Court the new guidelines framed for accreditation of nearly 30 lakh NGOs and voluntary organisations (VOs) in the country.

A Bench of Chief Justice J.S. Khehar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud was informed by Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta that the Ministry of Rural Development framed the accreditation guidelines to regulate “manner in which the VOs/NGOs, which are recipient of grants, would maintain their account, the procedure for audit of the account, including procedure to initiate action for recovering of the grants in case of misappropriation and criminal action.”

The guidelines, which are yet to be notified, were handed over to the court, amicus curiae and senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi and advocate Manohar Lal Sharma, who filed the PIL, for suggestions.

Nodal agency

According to the guidelines, NITI Aayog has been appointed as the nodal agency for the purpose of registration and accreditation of VOs/NGOs seeking funding from the Government of India. The Aayog has been also tasked with maintaining of database systems to manage and disseminate information relating to NGOs/VOs.

“The existing portal at NITI Aayog (NGO-Darpan) shall be strengthened and aligned with accreditation-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 bona fides,” the affidavit by the Centre said.

“The registration system should facilitate the seamless operation of the IT Act and the FCRA with respect to NGOs without the need for cumbersome and intrusive processes, which create mutual distrust and scope for misuse,” it said.

The formulated guidelines demand grantee institutions to upload photographs in support of the performances and geo-tag assets to help monitoring of their activities.

Progress reports

“The periodical progress reports from grantee institutions should be incorporated in the NGO scheme work flow on the website of the ministry, with the grantee institution making data entry under a login and password. The progress report in a processed form shall also be available in the public domain preferably with a GIS interface,” the affidavit said.

The Supreme Court had in January directed the government to audit nearly 30 lakh NGOs which received public funds but consistently failed to explain how they spent the money.

Criminal prosecution

The court had ordered that any NGO, found in the audit, to have cooked its books or indulged in misappropriation of the public funds should be subject to immediate criminal prosecution. Besides, the government should initiate civil recovery proceedings from these rogue NGOs. The court had demanded that the government file a compliance report by March 31, 2017.

The judicial order was unprecedented as defaulting NGOs were till then only subjected to blacklisting by the government.

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Printable version | Feb 24, 2020 8:54:55 AM |

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