New Delhi | The Supreme Court today sought response from Tamil Nadu and Telangana for not providing details to the CBI about all registered NGOs in two states and whether they have filed balance sheets before the authorities. A Bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu issued notices to the two states and posted the matter for hearing after two weeks even as the CBI submitted that out of 22,39,971 NGOs in 20 states, approximately 2,23,428 of them have filed their balance sheets with the authorities concerned.
The agency, which also gave the figures of Union Territories and stated that out of 5,684 NGOs, 50 have submitted their returns, sought extension of three more months for compiling entire information received from states and UTs. CBI also sought direction for states and UTs to provide requisite information through internet. During the brief hearing, Additional Solicitor General P S Patwalia said the NGOs will not be eligible for any grant unless they comply with the condition of filing statement of income expenditure of last three years. However, the bench, also comprising Justices A K Sikri and R K Agrawal, said all the statements made here has to be in black and white. The apex court had expanded the scope of the PIL which was filed in 2011 by advocate M L Sharma against an NGO, Hind Swaraj Trust, run by anticorruption crusader Anna Hazare. The PIL had sought probe into alleged embezzlement of funds.
CBI also told the bench that Arunachal Pradesh, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Union Territory of Delhi have only furnished part information and reminders have been sent to them. The agency filed an affidavit in compliance with the September 2, 2013 order and an annexure in it stated that out of 97,437 NGOs in Assam, none have filed their balance sheets. Goa, Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura and Himachal Pradesh are the other states where the NGOs have not filed their balance sheets.
CBI said the information received from Union Territories indicated that NGOs in Lakshadweep, Chandigarh and Daman & Diu were not submitting their returns. The affidavit said that exception was the state of Jammu and Kashmir and Mizoram where all the 147 and 34 registered NGOs respectively filed their balance sheets. It said only 652 out of 33,781 NGOs in Bihar submitted the income expenditure statement to the authority and in Jharkhand 3,185 NGOs out of 11,597 have met the requirement.
In Maharashtra, 77,766 NGOs out of 5,18,437 complied in filing income statement while in Sikkim 16 out of 143 NGOs have done the needful. CBI said in Uttar Pradesh out of 5,48,148 NGOs, approximately 1,19,000 have filed their balance sheets while in Gujarat out of 61,959 NGOs, approximately 5,539 have complied in filing the balance sheets. The annexure in the affidavit stated that in Uttarakhand and West Bengal there are 62,632 and 2,34,000 (approximately) NGOs respectively. However, it states that in Uttarakhand, NGOs are not submitting their balance sheets on yearly basis and they file the same at the time of their renewal after every five years.
Further, West Bengal government has informed the CBI that out of approximately 2,34,000 NGOs, 17,089 may be considered as active NGOs which have been filing annual returns. CBI said that information received indicated that in states like Kerala, Punjab and Rajasthan, there was no provision in the state laws requiring NGOs to furnish balance sheets. In these states there are 3,69,137, 84,752 and 1,36,978 NGOs respectively registered with authorities.
The apex court during the last hearing on November 17, 2014 had asked the probe agency to write to the chief secretaries of the states which are not providing the details despite the court order in this regard. The court in July had granted three more months to CBI to provide details about all registered NGOs. NGOs have come under judicial scrutiny with the Supreme Court on September 2, 2013 asking the CBI to provide details about such registered organisations and their financial statements on a PIL seeking probe into alleged embezzlement of funds.
Earlier, the agency had expressed difficulty in probing and collecting information on NGOs and had pleaded that the task be handed over to states, but the plea was summarily rejected by the court which directed the agency to comply with its order. If CBI can probe murder cases then why not probe against NGOs? You can do so many things, you do this also, the bench had said.