Framing Of Law To Regulate NGOs Under Process, Center Tells Supreme Court

The Additional Solicitor General sought some more time to apprise the court about the possible step to be taken by the government to regulat...

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Friday, August 18, 2017

Framing Of Law To Regulate NGOs Under Process, Center Tells Supreme Court

The Additional Solicitor General sought some more time to apprise the court about the possible step to be taken by the government to regulate activities of the NGOs.

NEW DELHI:  The Centre today told the Supreme Court that it was in the process of taking a final policy decision, including the framing of a law to regulate the activities of NGOs across the country.

A bench comprising Chief Justice JS Khehar and Justice DY Chandrachud considered the statement of Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Centre, and adjourned the matter for further hearing on August 21.

The bench said that in all probabality, the Centre was going to come out with a legislation on the issue.

The Additional Solicitor General sought some more time to apprise the court about the possible step to be taken by the government to regulate activities of the NGOs.

The court was hearing a PIL filed by lawyer ML Sharma, in his personal capacity, seeking to regulate activities of the NGOs including financial ones.

Earlier, the Supreme Court had asked central government body CAPART to apprise it about the steps taken in pursuance to its direction to consider making a law to regulate the NGOs, disbursal of funds and consequential proceedings against them.

It had sought an affidavit from the Council for Advancement of People's Action and Rural Technology (CAPART) on action taken on its April 26 order, suggesting that the Centre should consider prosecuting NGOs or voluntary organisations if they were found misusing public funds.


The Supreme Court had in its April 26 order asked the Centre to examine enacting a law to regulate disbursal of public funds to over 32 lakh NGOs and voluntary organisations (VOs) and prosecute them in case of misuse or misappropriation.

The court had suggested to the Centre that it can legislate under Entry 97 of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution which provides the list of issues on which the Centre or states or both can make laws to regulate NGOs.


Favouring a fresh all-encompassing law, the court had said if the government "desires to extend statutory status to regulations, then they would not only provide for enforceable consequences, but also envisage civil and criminal action as may be considered by the legislation".

The CAPART, which works under the Ministry of Rural Development and disburses funds to voluntary organisations (VOs) working in rural areas, had earlier apprised the top court that it has recommended lodging of 159 FIRs against various NGOs for alleged misappropriation or misuse of funds.

It had initially said it had blacklisted 718 NGOs for not following the due process and not submitting their accounting details, but had later removed 15 NGOs from the black-list after they complied with the accounting norms.

While hearing the PIL filed by Sharma, the court had said the Centre and its departments were doling out crores of rupees but were not aware of the repercussion of non-auditing.

Referring to details provided by senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, assisting the court as an amicus curiae, the court had said that a phenomenal amount of Rs. 950 crore every year was being given by the Centre and state governments to NGOs.

The bench had also said that "mere blacklisting" of these organisations would not suffice and civil and criminal action should be initiated for misappropriation of public money received by them from various government departments.

The CBI had in September 2015 informed the Supreme Court that less than ten per cent of over 30 lakh NGOs functioning in the country had submitted their returns or balance sheets and other financial details to the authorities.

Source: http://www.ndtv.com/india-news/framing-of-law-to-regulate-ngos-under-process-centre-tells-supreme-court-1738764

NGOs to soon be under law; confirms central government

In a statement to the supreme court, Central government stated that it is planning to regulate the activities of NGOs registered within the country.

Non Governmental organisations will soon be included under the parameters of law. In a statement to the supreme court, the central government stated that it is working on a policy, which will soon be finalised and once done, it will bring organisations under the rule of law throughout the country.

The statement was given to a bench comprising of CJI JS Khehar and Justice DY Chandrachud. Considering the statement of additional solicitor general Tushar Mehta, who appeared on behalf of the central government, the apex court adjourned the matter till 21st of August.

The Additional Solicitor General stated that the government needs more time to update the court about possible steps which are being thought upon to regulate the activities of NGO. To this, the bench reacted by saying that the central government is looking at the possibilities of bringing a legislation on the same.

A lawyer named ML Sharma had filed a PIL requesting the apex court to look into the matter and to decide a criteria to regulate the activities of NGOs. To which, the apex court had sought response from central government and its concerned department about the steps taken to regulate the activities. The PIL requests regulating all the activities of NGOs operating throughout the country, including the expenditure of their funds and the mechanism of fund raise.

In its order to the central government on 26th April, supreme court had directed it to regulate if public funds were being misused by the NGOs. Along with funds, the court had also asked the government to regulate the activities of these NGOs.

The Government has been working to regulate the activities of NGOs since a long time. In its previous statement to the supreme court, the government had added that it is not looking at a possibility of just blacklisting the NGOs and there needs to be a mechanism which regulates all the ongoing activities of NGOs.

In september 2015, CBI had stated the supreme court that there are over 30 lakh registered NGOs in the country and less than 10 percent of them have regularly filed their balance sheets and other financial details to the concerned authorities.

Source: https://www.theindianwire.com/business/ngos-to-soon-be-under-law-confirms-central-government-27991/

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Framing of law to regulate NGOs under process, Centre tells Supreme Court

The Supreme Court had in its 26 April order asked the Centre to examine enacting a law to regulate disbursal of public funds to over 32 lakh NGOs and voluntary organisations. Photo: Mint

Centre tells Supreme Court that it was in the process of taking a final policy decision, including the framing of a law to regulate the activities of NGOs

New Delhi: The Centre on Thursday told the Supreme Court that it was in the process of taking a final policy decision, including the framing of a law to regulate the activities of NGOs across the country.

A bench comprising Chief Justice J.S. Khehar and justice D.Y. Chandrachud considered the statement of additional solicitor general (ASG) Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, and adjourned the matter for further hearing on 21 August. The bench said that, in all probability, the Centre was going to come out with a legislation on the issue.

The ASG sought some more time to apprise the court about the possible step to be taken by the government to regulate activities of the NGOs. The court was hearing a PIL filed by lawyer M.L. Sharma, in his personal capacity, seeking to regulate activities of the NGOs including financial ones.

Earlier, the apex court had asked central government body the Council for Advancement of People's Action and Rural Technology (CAPART) to apprise it about the steps taken in pursuance to its direction to consider making a law to regulate the NGOs, disbursal of funds and consequential proceedings against them. It had sought an affidavit from CAPART on action taken on its 26 April order, suggesting that the Centre should consider prosecuting NGOs or voluntary organisations if they were found misusing public funds.

The apex court had in its 26 April order asked the Centre to examine enacting a law to regulate disbursal of public funds to over 32 lakh NGOs and voluntary organisations (VOs) and prosecute them in case of misuse or misappropriation. The court had suggested to the Centre that it can legislate under Entry 97 of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution which provides the list of issues on which the Centre or states or both can make laws to regulate NGOs.

Favouring a fresh all-encompassing law, the court had said if the government "desires to extend statutory status to regulations, then they would not only provide for enforceable consequences, but also envisage civil and criminal action as may be considered by the legislation".

The CAPART, which works under the Ministry of Rural Development and disburses funds to voluntary organisations (VOs) working in rural areas, had earlier apprised the top court that it has recommended lodging of 159 FIRs against various NGOs for alleged misappropriation or misuse of funds. It had initially said it had blacklisted 718 NGOs for not following the due process and not submitting their accounting details, but had later removed 15 NGOs from the black-list after they complied with the accounting norms.

While hearing the PIL filed by Sharma, the court had said the Centre and its departments were doling out crores of rupees but were not aware of the repercussion of non-auditing. Referring to details provided by senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, assisting the court as an amicus curiae, the court had said that a phenomenal amount of Rs950 crore every year was being given by the Centre and state governments to NGOs.

The bench had also said that "mere blacklisting" of these organisations would not suffice and civil and criminal action should be initiated for misappropriation of public money received by them from various government departments. The CBI had in September 2015 informed the apex court that less than 10% of over 30 lakh NGOs functioning in the country had submitted their returns or balance sheets and other financial details to the authorities.

Source: http://www.livemint.com/Politics/wVnr2HyqhbnuIARDnCP8TN/Framing-of-law-to-regulate-NGOs-under-process-Centre-tells.html

German Chancellor Fellowship | call for applications from India, China, Russia

Deadline:September 15, 2017

Website:https://www.humboldt-foundation.de/web/german-chancellor-fellowship.html

The German Chancellor Fellowship for tomorrow's leaders is a programme of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. Applications from the cultural sector are welcomed from the leaders of tomorrow in China, Russian Federation and India (also Brazil and the USA). Up to ten fellowships per country are offered each year.

The German Chancellor Fellowship offers you an opportunity to take the next career step in Germany – irrespective of your field of work. In order to apply, develop your own project idea and find the host of your choice to mentor you. Once your host has confirmed, you can apply for a fellowship.

We offer you

·         a monthly fellowship of €2,150, €2,450 or €2,750, depending on your qualifications

·         individual mentoring during your stay in Germany

·         additional financial support for items such as family members accompanying you, travel expenses or a German language course

·         a study tour of Germany and a number of events during which you can make contact with other fellows and representatives of German companies and institutions

·         extensive alumni sponsorship, particularly to help you sustain contact with collaborative partners in Germany during your entire professional career

Send an application, if you

·         are a university graduate with an international bias from Brazil, China, India, Russia or the USA and have already acquired initial leadership experience

·         completed your first degree less than 12 years ago

·         would like to spend a year working on a project you have developed yourself with a host of your choice in Germany

·         can demonstrate that your project will be of social significance and that you have the potential to build future bridges between Germany and your own country

·         work in a sector such as politics, economics, the media, administration and culture

Please consult the Programme Information (https://www.humboldt-foundation.de/pls/web/docs/F29497/programme_information.pdf)

(PDF) for details of the application requirements and fellowship specifications.

The Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany is the patron of this fellowship programme. The Foundation grants up to 50 German Chancellor Fellowships annually – up to ten for each country.

Application deadline: 15 September 2017

 
Source: http://culture360.asef.org/opportunity/german-chancellor-fellowship-call-applications-india-china-russia/

Foreign funds row hits NGOs in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh

Hyderabad: The Union Home Ministry has served notices under the Foreign Contributions Registrations Act (FCRA) on several NGOs and registered societies in Telangana state and Andhra Pradesh regarding non-validation of their bank accounts that have foreign contributions.

Top institutions like Archdiocese of Hyderabad Society, R.C. Diocese of Hyderabad Deccan Society, Don Bosco Society, Sisters of Charity of St. Bartho-lomew and Vincenza Education Society of Secunderabad, Lions Club of Secunderabad Charitable Trust, Andh-ra Seva Samiti, Visakap-atnam Public Library Society, Godavari Delta Steward Association, are all in this list.

The home ministry has made it mandatory for NGOs to have a designated bank account to receive foreign funds.

MHA FCRA Wing Joint Secretary Mukesh Mittal in the notice stated, "All associations which have been granted registration or prior permission under Foreign Contributions Regulations Act shall receive foreign contribution in a bank account specially designated for foreign contributions. As per the rules, all the banks shall report to the central government within 48 hours of such receipts or even utilisation of foreign contribution by NGOs."

He observed that several associations had not validated their designated accounts causing problems for the banks to comply with the provision of FCRA. The associations were asked to validate the accounts.

The home ministry based on an Intelligence Bureau report had recently cancelled the licenses of several NGOs in Hyderabad as they were being used for hawala operation or for purposes other than what the funds were meant for.

The home ministry also warned non-government organisations for not uploading the annual returns and said that their registrations would be cancelled if they failed to do so.

A source said, "Some of the NGOs are getting money from United States and Europe for hawala operations. In some cases the money is used for religious purposes though it comes here for charity."

Source: http://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/170817/foreign-funds-row-hits-ngos-in-telangana-and-andhra-pradesh.html

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Govt doesn't want 'anti-national' NGOs challenging it & BJP alone is not guilty

When the Narendra Modi-led BJP won a decisive mandate in the 2014 general elections, civil society groups in India braced for some sort of crackdown. After all, the right-wing had dubbed a lot of these groups as 'anti-national' for providing assistance to those who dared to raise their voice against a development paradigm which had no space for dissent.

Even the NGOs that had raised questions about Modi's role in the 2002 Gujarat pogrom and extra-judicial killings as Gujarat Chief Minister were certain of facing government's wrath, in the wake of the new political reality.

Their fears came true last year, when the central government decided to cut foreign funding licence of certain NGOs that were critical of the government. Then, in November 2016, licences of close to 20,000 NGOs were cancelled by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

What was worrisome was the ambiguity over the invalidation of licences of certain NGOs, and the cancellation of their foreign funding under the FCRA (Foreign Contribution Regulation Act).

Some prominent NGOs working on human rights violations and policy reforms were informed that their licences were being cancelled or not renewed in the 'national interest', citing reports from the ground which were never made public.

The government's intent was to silence all those NGOs that were engaged in exposing the fallacies of this development paradigm, by highlighting the maladies in projects that violated human rights and environmental norms, and mobilised people to speak for their rights.

This was a major setback for many NGOs who sourced foreign funds only because of dearth of funds on offer by Indian philanthropists.

NOT ALL IN THE SAME BRACKET

It would also be wrong to put all these NGOs in the same bracket, considering how some of them may have voluntarily opted to not renew their FCRA licences. Some NGOs may have availed foreign funds for a particular project, and once that got over, they would not have applied for renewal of licences.

Anil Chaudhary, convenor of Popular Education and Action Centre (PEACE), says: "It's a misguided notion that 20,000 licences have been cancelled. In fact, all those who applied for renewal in 2016 either got the licence or will get it. These numbers were fed to the media to create a perception that the government is taking strict action. There are only 20-25 cases where renewal of licences has been refused, but they do not get reported amongst these numbers being quoted by the media.

PEACE is among the NGOs that have received clear orders from the government that their licence has either been cancelled or will not be renewed. Some other NGOs in this bracket are Greenpeace, Lawyers Collective, Sabrang Trust and ANHAD. These NGOs had a history of being overtly critical of BJP state governments, and even the PM himself.

Chaudhary says the crackdown on non-profits is a global phenomenon, which gained momentum in India after the BJP came to power.

"Interference has increased, so that whoever is ruling can guide it. It is happening in Russia, US, and Indonesia, among other countries, wherein governments are putting pressure on non-profits. However, if this trend was not enough, we saw BJP being elected to power, which is now using it to its political advantage, and silencing all those who have genuinely been opposed to its brand of politics and development," he says.

FATF RESPONSIBLE FOR CRACKDOWN

According to Chaudhary, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an inter-governmental body, is responsible for the crackdown on NGOs.

FATF sets standards and promotes effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.

"The FATF is, therefore, a 'policy-making body', which works to generate the necessary political will to bring about national legislative and regulatory reforms in these areas," reads a statement on its website.

Chaudhary points out how FATF, in one of its reports, had claimed non-profits were vulnerable to 'terrorist funding', which led to this worldwide crackdown.

India, being a member country, has been working on FATF's guidelines, and with the BJP in power, this is being further used to silence those who were particularly critical of the ruling dispensation.

In fact, a leaked intelligence report from 2015 claimed that organisations like Greenpeace were hurting India's economy by presenting key development projects in bad light.

Just a few days after the report was leaked, Greenpeace's FCRA licence was cancelled.

RSS INFLUENCE

Similarly, Lawyers Collective, a prominent NGO run by senior lawyers Indira Jaising and Anand Grover, was barred from receiving any foreign donations allegedly because it criticised Modi's tenure as Gujarat Chief Minister and his environmental policies. Lawyers Collective has been at the forefront of providing legal assistance to those who either could not afford legal services for the last three decades.

In fact, the major bone of contention between the BJP government and Lawyers Collective was the latter's decision to represent Teesta Setalvad in her quest for justice for the victims of the 2002 Gujarat pogrom. Later, when the BJP assumed power, Setalvad and her husband Javed Anand were accused of embezzlement of funds meant for the riot victims. Her offices were raided and subsequently, her NGO, Sabrang, was denied the renewal of its FCRA licence.

Similarly, in 2017, the government barred the Public Health Foundation of India from receiving foreign funds, on the request of RSS's economic wing, the Swadeshi Jagran Manch, which reflected how the government's decisions were driven by organisations affiliated to the RSS.

FCRA AMENDMENT THAT HELPED POLITICAL PARTIES

Ever since Modi took over, cancellation of these licences has become the norm. The crackdown on foreign-funded NGOs gained momentum in 2015, a year after Modi took oath as Prime Minister.

In 2015 alone, the government cancelled FCRA licences of over 10,000 NGOs, which was far more than the preceding years.

Home Ministry data shows there were 59 cancellations in 2014, compared to four in 2013. However, in 2012, when the Congress was in power, 4,138 NGOs had to face cancellation of their FCRA licences.

Interestingly, the FCRA was initially brought into force in 1976 with the sole intent to curb foreign funding to political parties and media, and to keep a watch on their funding patterns. But, in 2010, the government brought NGOs into its ambit.

However, the government, in 2015, introduced a clause to amend the FCRA, wherein political parties could get funding from subsidiaries of foreign companies, and received backing from Opposition parties.

In fact, the Association of Democratic Rights filed a petition in the Delhi High Court accusing the Congress and the BJP of accepting foreign funds in 2014, thus violating FCRA. The High Court, in its judgement on 28 March 2016, held the two political parties responsible for the violations, and directed the Union government to take appropriate action against them within six months. But the government is yet to take any action against them.

DON'T BLAME BJP ALONE

Chaudhary actually says that the saffron party is only taking the UPA's policy forward, and blames former Home Minister P Chidambaram for the crackdown on NGOs.

"He brought in the amendment which made the renewal of licences mandatory after five years. He also brought in other clauses that interfered in the way non-profits worked. The only difference between the BJP and the Congress is that the latter does the job without creating any noise, while the saffron party creates all the noise without doing anything," he says.

Chaudhary also points out how bank accounts of INSAF, another NGO, were frozen under UPA rule. "The BJP alone should not be blamed. It is as much as Congress's doing as that of BJP," he says.

Questioning why there are no such restrictions on political parties and corporate houses, Chaudhary adds: "If the non-profits have to survive this onslaught, they should be ready to work as an extension of the State or the market. The rest will all perish, unless they fight to restore order."

Source: http://www.catchnews.com/india-news/india-70-what-s-behind-modi-s-crackdown-on-ngos-and-where-is-it-leading-77383.html

SC asks CAPART about action taken on regulating NGOs, funds

The Supreme Court today asked central government body CAPART to apprise it about the steps taken in pursuance to its direction to consider making a law to regulate NGOs, disbursal of funds and consequential proceedings against them.

A bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar sought an affidavit from Council for Advancement of People's Action and Rural Technology (CAPART) on action taken on its April 26 order by which it had suggested that the Centre should consider prosecuting NGOs or voluntary organisations if they are found misusing public funds.

"CAPART shall file an affidavit indicating the steps taken by it in pursuance of our directions passed on April 26.

We need to know what actions have been taken by them," the bench, also comprising Justice D Y Chandrachud, said and posted the matter for hearing on August 17.

The apex court had in its April 26 order asked the Centre to examine enacting a law to regulate disbursal of public funds to over 32 lakh NGOs and voluntary organisations (VOs) and prosecute them in case of misuse or misappropriation.

The court had suggested to the Centre that it can legislate under Entry 97 of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution which provides the list of issues on which the Centre or states or both can make laws to regulate NGOs.

Favouring a fresh all-encompassing law, the court had said if the government "desires to extend statutory status to regulations, then they would not only provide for enforceable consequences, but also envisage civil and criminal action as may be considered by the legislation".

The CAPART, which works under the Ministry of Rural Development and disburses funds to voluntary organisations (VOs) working in rural areas, had earlier apprised the top court that it has recommended lodging of 159 FIRs against various NGOs for alleged misappropriation or misuse of funds.

It had initially said that it had blacklisted 718 NGOs for not following the due process and not submitting their accounting details, but had later removed 15 NGOs from the black-list after they complied with the accounting norms.

While hearing a PIL filed by lawyer M L Sharma, the court had said the Centre and its departments were doling out crores of rupees but were not aware of the repercussion of non-auditing.

Referring to details provided by senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, assisting the court as an amicus curiae, the court had said that a phenomenal amount of Rs 950 crore every year was being given by the Centre and state governments to NGOs.

The bench had also said that "mere blacklisting" of these organisations would not suffice and civil and criminal action should be initiated for misappropriation of public money received by them from various government departments.

Earlier, the government had faced some tough questions for failing to evolve a regulatory mechanism to monitor the massive amount of funds to over 32 lakh NGOs.

CBI had in September 2015 informed the apex court that less than ten per cent of over 30 lakh NGOs functioning across the country had submitted their returns or balance sheets and other financial details to the authorities.

The apex court had expanded the scope of the PIL, filed in 2011 against an NGO, Hind Swaraj Trust, run by anti- corruption crusader Anna Hazare. The PIL had sought probe into alleged embezzlement of funds.

Source: http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-sc-asks-capart-about-action-taken-on-regulating-ngos-funds-2529795

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