CBI on Monday raised a question mark on NGOs in the country, informing the Supreme Court that of the more than 22 lakh NGOs in various states, less than 10% had filed their balance sheets on grants received and their expenditures with the authorities. CBI collated data from 20 states and seven UTs, and informed the court that 22,45,655 NGOs were operating in the states. Of these only 2,234,78 NGOs, that is 9.9%, have filed their returns.
The number of NGOs will be much more as it did not include data from MP, Odisha, TN, Karnataka and Chhattisgarh. Taking India’s population to be 1.2 billion, there appears to be an NGO for every 535 people. According to home ministry data, at present India has one policeman for 940 people.
Hearing a PIL by advocate ML Sharma on regulating the NGOs, a Supreme Court bench of Chief Justice HL Dattu and justices AK Sikri and RK Agrawal expressed concern over a large majority of them not filing accounts of receipt and expenditure with the Registrar of Societies. It asked additional solicitor general PS Patwalia, “Why NGOs should not be asked to mandatorily maintain appropriate accounts?” Patwalia suggested that NGOs could be asked to submit accounts for the previous three years to be eligible for receiving grants. The bench asked the Centre to file its suggestions on the issue.
UP has the highest number of NGOs at 5.48 lakh followed by Maharashtra, which has 5.18 lakh of them. Figures for other states are Kerala — 3.69 lakh; Rajasthan — 1.36 lakh; West Bengal — 2.34 lakh; Assam – 97,437; Punjab — 84,752; Uttarakhand — 62,632; Gujarat — 61,959 and Bihar — 33,781.
The court issued notices to Tamil Nadu and Telangana as the CBI complained that the two states have not provided any data relating to registered NGOs in their territories. The agency also said that part information had been received from Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh and Haryana.
Among the Union territories, Delhi has not yet furnished data to the CBI. Puducherry has a healthy NGO culture. It has 60 registered NGOs of which 46 filed their accounts with the competent authority.
Given the huge statistics to deal with, the CBI sought three more months to compile the information from the states.