The government today agreed to the demand of some Rajya Sabha members for extension of the date for filing of asset disclosures by trustees of a certain category of NGOs beyond July 31.
The issue was raised by nominated member Anu Aga who said the Lok Pal Act, 2013 covers among other things, trustees and senior office bearers of NGOs who receive foreign funds of Rs 10 lakh or more and government grants of over Rs 1 crore.
All trustees and senior office bearers are required to disclose assets and liabilities of themselves, spouse and dependent children. The information is in the public domain, she added.
As per a recent notification, the assets have to be declared by July 31 failing which it would be presumed that the asset has been acquired through corrupt means leading to penal action, she said.
“As the disclosures are required to be made before July 31 failing which there will be dire consequences, the issue needs to be addressed urgently… Trustees of these NGOs are not public servants… Given that the detailed information about their personal and private assets would be in public domain, many trustees are apprehensive that they would be subject to possible harassment. Some of them have resigned from positions to avoid this consequences,” the member said.
Aga added that because of this, NGOs would be deprived of guidance from experienced trustees. She also said that NGOs have a detailed disclosure procedure.
“One temporary solution could be to extend the date for a few months from July 31. However, this is a short term respite and we will have to find a permanent solution by amending the act,” she suggested.
Aga got support from several other members including Sharad Pawar (NCP) and Digvijay Singh (Congress).
In response, I&B Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said: “we shall keep in mind the sentiments of the House in this regard and see that a broad consensus is evolved on the issue and then move forward. The date will be extended but it depends on the responses of all the political parties.”
He said he will convey to the minister concerned and “see that the date is extended”.