NGOs up in arms against new societies Act (Non Profit Sector will stop working in Himachal)

Non-government organisations (NGOs) in Sirmaur district have decided to fight for the withdrawal of the Himachal Pradesh Societies Registration Bill recently passed by the state Assembly. They have termed it a “black law” which will hit the NGO movement in the state.

After conclusion of Morathan meeting of NGOs in Sirmaur district here last evening a joint statement, signed by Mr Kuldeep Verma, Director, PAPN NGO, Andheri, and Mr Madan Sharma, Director, Sardha NGO, Kafota, who was elected president of the newly constituted Mahila Mandal, Navyuvak Mandal Avm Swachik Sanstha Sangarsh Samiti, issued here today said that by enacting such an undemocratic anti-development and anti fundamental rights law, the state government had given a clear message to crush the NGO movement in the state.

As per the information available with the government at present over 37,000 NGOs are registered in the state under the Societies Act, 1860, and as per the provisions of this amended law all such organisations would come under this law, which include a large number of mahila mandals, navyuvak mandals and cultural, educational and religious societies.

The joint statement says that the provisions of new act give all the administrative and judicial powers to the Registrar of Societies to investigate any matter related to any NGO. He will further have the powers to hear such matters and give his decision which would be binding on the NGOs. He can authorise any of his subordinates to do so. At present these powers were with the civil courts.

As per the joint statement, under Section 16 (a), the Registrar will have the powers to decide members for the election of an NGO. Section 45 of the Act empowers the Registrar to cancel the registration of any NGO. Under Sections 8 (13) and 48 the District collector will take over the property of such NGO as has been dissolved under Section 44 of the Act. Under Section 41 the Registrar can remove the governing body of any NGO and appoint an Administrator to run the NGO and the remuneration payable to th4e Administrator shall be paid from the funds of the NGO.

As per the provisions of new Act, one cannot constitute on NGO for “any charitable or welfare purposes” which were not included in the list of this legislation. Legislation has counted only 12 purposes for which a NGO can be got registered which does not include purposes like to work for human rights protection, for the rights of Dalits and downtrodden people, women rights and to work for the welfare of animals, birds.

The NGO leaders have appealed to the government to adopt soft attitude on this issue in the public interest and withdraw the legislation. They had suggested that any law in this context should be enacted by taking into confidence all the stake-holders in the state. The NGO leaders have requested the Governor of Himachal Pradesh to return this legislation to the Assembly for reconsideration.

S.R. Pundir

Tribune News Service

1 Comment

  • We request the State Government to start a public debate on the Bill and sincerely and seriously consult the voluntary organisations engaged in development/empowerment work at the grassroot level before enacting the law in question.

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