NEW DELHI -- The Centre on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that it has framed guidelines for regulating the activity, registration and grants to over 32 lakh voluntary organisations (VOs)/NGOs in the country.
A bench of Chief Justice JS Khehar and Justice DY Chandrachud was informed by Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta that in compliance with the apex court order, a high-level committee under the chairmanship of S Vijaykumar, ex-secretary, the Ministry of Rural Development has framed the guidelines/rules for accreditation of VOs/NGOs.
The apex court took the affidavit of the Centre detailing the guidelines on record and asked Mehta to serve the copy to petitioner advocate ML Sharma and amicus curiae Rakesh Dwivedi, who is assisting the court in the matter.
Under the new 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 data- base 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 bonafides," the affidavit said.
It said that all VOs/NGOs, aspiring to be funded by the government, shall register themselves in NGO-Darpan through online process which would enable them to get a unique ID.
"The registration system should facilitate the seamless operation of the IT Act and FCRA with respect to NGOs without the need for cumbersome and intrusive processes, which create mutual distrust and scope for misuse," it said.
Regarding accreditation of NGOs and VOs, the affidavit said a process of evaluating, consistency of compliance to statutory requirements and of the registration including accounts and audit requirements will be in place.
"In future, all funds to NGOs/VOs should be released through the public fund management system (PFMS)," it said, adding that a three-tier monitoring system shall be instituted uniformly for the central government and ministries.
The formulated guidelines stipulate a tough monitoring mechanism by which the grantee institutions shall upload photographs in support of the performances and should geo-tag the assets, if applicable.
"The periodical progress reports from grantee institutions should be incorporated in the NGO scheme workflow 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.
It said that fund-based accounting may be introduced for earmarked/designated funds by the VOs/NGOs and all grants received from the governments should be separately accounted for.
On January 10, the apex court had pulled up the government for failing to evolve a regulatory mechanism to monitor thousands of crore worth of funds of over 32 lakh NGOs, societies and voluntary organisations.
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