New-Himachal Pradesh Societies Registration Bill (Amendtment may spell doom for NGO’s in HP)

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 “unconstitutional and undemocratic” 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 “undue” haste without any consultations with the voluntary agencies.

In its present shape, it would only serve to curb the people’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.

1 Comment

  • The HP Government should re consider the HP Societies Registration Bill-2006 in the larger interest of voluntary movement in the state. There are certain sections which are against the spirit of voluntary work. In fact the new lagislation will not in any way promote and facilitates the voluntary social work/ empowerment of the marginalised and deprived but instead promote corruption at the lower level.

    The said bill has imposed the most of the sections of the Cooperative societies on the voluntary organisation so this will lead to \\\”Inspector Raj\\\” on the voluntary organisation. These sections should be withdrawn immediately as there is a fundamental difference between a cooperative society and a voiluntary organisation. A cooperative society operates for the monetary profit of its share holders while the voluntary organisations are basically a non-profit making organisations engaged in the welfare/development/empowerment of the people without any profit making objectives.

    This Bill will lead to centralisation of all investigating, charge framing and deciding poweres only in one hand-thereby harrasing and rewarding the organisatios on selective basis.

    The new bill proposes that Voluntary organisation receiving more then five lakhs in a year sholud publish their Balance Sheet/Profit and Loss account in promoinant News Paper. Yes we agree to this but the Government should bear the cost of publication or it should make necessary provisions for giving grants for the purpose or it can publish the same in Giri Raj-the State owned weekly at its own expenses. There are many other clauses which require thorough discussions and deliberations before passing a important lagislation.

    This bill was passed in a hurry and hushed-up manners without any public debate or at least consultations with the affected party or the stake holders. Therefore we request the State Government to withdraw this Bill and start the public debate and invite the suggestions of the Voluntary Organisations of the state before passing/adopting a borad based, transparent and fair Act which promotes the Voluntary Movement and not just Control and Regulate the Movement to just files and papers.

    Kuldeep Verma
    People\\\’s Action for People in Need
    Andheri, District Sirmour, HP

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