The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the central government to undertake the audit of NGOs and voluntary organisation receiving government funds, and prosecute them in case of misappropriation or embezzlement of the funds.
A bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar rapped the central government for not putting in place a regulatory mechanism to track the accounts of the NGOs and directed it and Council for Advancement of People's Action and Rural Technology (CAPART) to complete auditing of over 32 lakh NGOs and submit its report by March 31, 2017.
The order came in a petition filed by advocate M. L. Sharma, seeking probe into the funds given to NGOs and their utilisation by them.
The bench said the funds given by CAPART and other departments is public money and must be accounted for.
"So much money running into crores of rupees has been given and you say that you don't have records.
"It can't be," the bench said rejecting the government's submission by the Centre that it does not have records of the money given to the NGOs and voluntary organisations.
The government informed the court that of the nearly 33 lakh NGOs which receive government funds, only about 3 lakh of them filed audited accounts.
Amicus curiae Rakesh Dwivedi told the court that government funds in excess of Rs 9,000 crore were given annually to the NGOs and voluntary organisations.
Taking exception to the affidavit filed by a Deputy Secretary, the court said that all future affidavit should be filed by Additional Secretary level officer with approval of the Secretary.
The court also ordered the Centre to frame rules and regulations to accredit the NGOs and voluntary organisations.
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