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SC Directs Centre to Prosecute NGOs Failing to Explain Expenditure

File Photo: Supreme Court

New Delhi: Cracking the whip on over 33 lakh NGOs receiving government funds, Supreme Court of India has directed the Centre to prosecute NGOs which failed to explain how the funds were spent.

The apex court also directed the government to carry out an audit of all the NGOs getting government funds by March 31, 2017, and put in place a regulatory mechanism to monitor the funds given to these NGOs.

There are about 33 lakh NGOs which receive funds from the government and of this, only about 3 lakh NGOs are regular in submitting accounts to the parent ministry of their expenses — rest are in default.

Top court’s order seeks to target these defaulters. NGOs receive over Rs 9,000 crore by way of grants from various ministries.

The court has ordered the government to go beyond than “just regular blacklisting” of the defaulting NGOs and initiate recovery proceedings from the erring NGOs.

This order comes on a PIL that initially raised questions on social activist Anna Hazare-run trust in Maharashtra.

The PIL levelled allegations against Hazare and his associates that they had floated Hind Swaraj Trust in Ralegon Sidhi in 1995, with a capital of just Rs 500 and received Rs 45 lakh from the Centre in 1994-95, even before the trust was registered.

In 1995-96, the trust received another grant of Rs 65.85 lakh, this time from the state government.

But the top court expanded the scope of the petition and has now passed orders covering all NGOs getting government funds.