The Supreme Court on Wednesday gave the central government four weeks' time to decide how to regulate the funding and functioning of the NGOs and voluntary organisations -- a large number of which are found to be functioning in breach of the rules.
The bench of Chief Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud sought a response from the government as Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the court that a decision on whether to enact a law or frame guidelines for regulating the funding and functioning of the NGOs would be taken at highest level at the earliest.
Making it clear that it would not like to push the government on the course it may adopt for regulating the NGOs -- overwhelming number of which are flouting the norms, the bench said it would be appropriate if government took a call on the matter.
Telling ASG Mehta that misuse of public funds by the NGOs could not be allowed, the court said it was not the absence of law on regulating the funding and functioning of the NGOs and voluntary organisations that prevented in initiating proceedings against errant NGOs.
The top court in the last hearing in the matter on April 26 had asked the Centre to consider putting in place a statutory regime to regulate registration, funding, compliance and audit of the NGOs getting state support.
The court said this during the hearing of a PIL by Advocate M.L. Sharma, who has sought probe into the alleged misuse of funds given to NGO Hind Swaraj run by anti-corruption crusader Ana Hazare.
However, later the scope of the PIL was expanded to look into the funding of the NGOs by the state and their accountability mechanism.
Following a direction by the top court, a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) found that of the 32 lakh NGOs, only three lakh submitted their audited accounts to the authorities.