NGOs, Their Executives to Give Annual Income Details to Lokpal

New Delhi
NGOs, Their Executives to Give Annual Income Details to Lokpal

ll foreign and domestic-funded Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) will be under Lokpal, which will initiate an enquiry against them in the event of their involvement in corruption.

Besides, both the NGOs and their top executives will have to file details of income and assets before the proposed anti-corruption body.

As per the rules notified recently by Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), NGOs receiving more than Rs one crore as government grant and donations above Rs 10 lakh from abroad will be under the ambit of the Lokpal.

Under the new rules, office bearers of such NGOs will be treated as "public servants" and charged under the anti-corruption law in case of financial irregularities.

These rules will apply to the NGOs, Limited Liability Partnership firms (LLPs)--which can be a law or real estate firm--or any such group partly or wholly financed by the central government. However, big corporates will be out of the ambit of Lokpal.

Anti-corruption activists have expressed concern over the government's move to allegedly ignore private sector bribery by exempting such companies from the Lokpal's jurisdiction.

"It is worrisome that the Lokpal Act and the recent notification of the DoPT relating to the monetary limit of government funding for societies, trusts, associations and LLPs to bring them under the jurisdiction of the Lokpal for purpose of corruption does not include private companies registered under the Companies Act 2013," said Venkatesh Nayak, Programme Coordinator, Access to Information Programme, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative--an NGO.

Nayak said with several basic services such as power and water supply, telephone, education and health services being provided by the private sector or the increasing trend of relaxing FDI norms in crucial sectors such as agriculture, pharmaceuticals and even defence, it is imperative that private entities selling essential commodities or providing basic services to the public are also brought under the ambit of the Lokpal for the purpose of combating corruption.

As per the new rules, the Home Ministry has been made the competent authority to take action against executives of foreign-funded NGOs in case they are found misutilising overseas grants.

Any person who is or has been a director, manager, secretary or any other officer of a society, association of persons or trust (whether registered under any law for the time being in force or not), wholly or partly financed by the government, and the annual income of which exceeds Rs one crore will be under the Lokpal ambit, the rules said.

These rules assume significance as the government recently cancelled licences of two NGOs--Lawyers Collective and Sabrang Trust--for allegedly misutilising funds received from overseas.

Any of the top executives of the NGOs are supposed to file annual returns relating to receipt of donations from a foreign source "till such time the entire amount of the donation aforesaid, received by such society or association of persons or trust stands fully utilised", it said.

The institution of Lokpal is yet to be set up by the Centre as a bill to amend the Lokpal Act is pending in Parliament.

As per rules already notified under the Act, every public servant shall file annual returns pertaining to his assets and liabilities, along with that of spouse and dependent children.


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