NGOs reject societies registration Bill
Tribune News Service Shimla, August 27
Non-government organisations (NGO) in the state have rejected the Himachal Pradesh Societies Registration Bill as â€œunconstitutional and undemocraticâ€ and said that it had been passed by the Vidhan Sabha with the intention of bringing voluntary agencies under the control of the government.
Led by the State Voluntary Health Association and SUTRA, the joint forum of the NGOs alleged that the Bill had been passed in â€œundueâ€ haste without any consultations with the voluntary agencies.
In its present shape, it would only serve to curb the peopleâ€™s initiative.
The government needs to be requested to suitably amend the Bill and to set up a committee, which includes representatives of the NGOs, for drafting rules to minimise the damage.
Mr Sushil Mendhapurkar, Director, SUTRA, said that there were serious legal infirmities in the new legislation and it would not stand to judicial scrutiny. It infringes on the right of the people to form voluntary bodies and work for their own betterment.
He said if the government failed to address their concerns, the voluntary agencies would approach the Governor and urge him to return the Bill to the house for reconsideration.
If required, a similar representation would be made to the President of India. The NGOs would be constrained to move court as the last resort.
Section 16(a) of the Bill, which empowered the Registrar to decide whether or not a person was qualified to contest an election, would provide a tool to the government to interfere with the internal affairs of the societies.
Similarly, the power to question the accounts of societies and making it mandatory to publish annual accounts in prominent newspapers if the income was more than Rs 5 lakh were unacceptable. It also empowers the government to take over the assets of an NGO even if had not received any funds from the government.