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Panel to check NGOs’ accounts
The Government has set up a high-level panel to scrutinise the accounts of lakhs of NGOs and voluntarily organisations, which together received thousands of crores of rupees of public funds. The Centre has decided to initiate criminal action against those misusing the grants. About 32.97 lakh NGOs and voluntarily organisations fall within the list of recipients.
The move follows Supreme Court order dated January 11 this year directing the Centre to audit by March end funds received by NGOs from Government departments and Ministries by March end.
While NGOs are non-governmental organisations which have paid staff on its roll, voluntarily organisations mainly relies volunteers for its operations.
A Bench comprising Chief Justice JS Khehar, Justice NV Ramana and Justice DY Chandrachud had said, “In case an NGO is found to be non-compliant after auditing, it is imperative for the authorities to initiate civil and criminal action so as to enable the government to recover the money, apart from punishing those who misappropriated the funds.”
On Thursday, the Union Rural Development Ministry, the nodal agency set up by the Apex court to look into the matter, constituted the committee headed by its former secretary S Vijay Kumar and five members Amitabh Mukhopadhaya and RB Sinha (both former senior CAG officials), JC Sharma (retired economic advisor), Madhu Khetan (member of Central Employment and Guarantee Council) and NITI aayog member (NGO).
Sources said that the term of reference of the panel includes framing guidelines for accreditation of NGOs/VOs, framework for maintenance of accounts in case of grants received from the Government and mechanism for auditing accounts and indicate conditions under which the criminal action can be initiated. The guidelines will be presented to court on the next date of hearing fixed on April 5.
According to a status report submitted in the court by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), out of 32,97,044 NGOs and voluntary organisations, which received public funds, only 3,07,072 organisations are filing balance sheets and utilisation certificates for funds received.
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