New Delhi: With the government cracking the whip on NGOs for alleged violation of foreign funding rules, the Supreme Court has also taken a serious view of mushrooming of about 30 lakh such bodies across the country and many of them not filing Income Tax returns for years.
The apex court, which has been seized of the matter for nearly five years and had ordered CBI to probe into charges of misappropriation of funds by many NGOs, wanted to know if there was any regulatory body to look at the size and magnitude of the problem.
"This is a major problem. These are mind-boggling figures," a bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur said, adding that "lakhs of societies are getting money from all over the world".
"Is there any recommendation by the Law Commission to frame legislations for effective regulation and transparency in the funding of such NGOs.
"Whatever has happened in the past, like siphoning of money etc, is difficult to go into, but for the future, transparency has to be there," the bench, also comprising Justice A M Khanwilkar, said while appointing senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi as amicus to assist the court in the matter.
"Keeping in view the nature of the controversy and the magnitude of the problem arising on account of as many as 29,99,623 societies registered in this country, we request Rakesh Dwivedi, senior advocate, to assist this court as amicus who has graciously agreed to do so.
"The Registry is directed to furnish him a copy of the writ petition and connected papers including the previous orders passed by this court within two days," the bench said.
Meanwhile, the CBI counsel filed several reports, documents and CDs in compliance with the court's earlier orders, giving the number of NGOs registered in various states, which showed Maharashtra had over five lakh voluntary bodies, Bihar 61,000 and Assam 97,000.
CBI also told the court that governments of Karnataka, Odisha and Telangana have still not complied with its earlier order.
Petitioner advocate M L Sharma sought time to make his submissions, after which the bench posted the matter for September 23.
CBI had in September last year informed the apex court that less than ten per cent of over 30 lakh NGOs functioning across the country had submitted their returns or balance sheets and other financial details to the authorities.