Every person whose actions directly affect another person should be accountable to that person, in particular, and to others, depending upon who is indirectly affected by such actions. But such accountability must be clearly laid down and not left vague and subject to multiple interpretations.
The unease among NGOs led some members of governing bodies and trustees, some of them independent of the organisations they were associated with to resign from their posts. Partly, this arose from a sense that their privacy was being violated by the demand that their assets had to be made public. In many cases, trustees and members of the governing body have nothing to do with the day-to-day operations of a non-profit. They are professionals chosen for their expertise in certain areas. Is it right to label them public servants?
“NGOs are essentially private organisations working for public good. By what stretch of the imagination does a board member or officer of an NGO become a public servant merely because, for example, the organisation receives more than Rs.10 lakh from foreign sources? And what if this is information is put up in the public domain? It would be a huge violation of concerned individuals’ privacy.”
The other concern was that a great proportion of social work is carried out by volunteers. NGOs fear this could discourage people from getting involved in social causes. “Human rights workers are mostly volunteers. Forcing them to disclose their financials is nothing but harassment aimed at driving them away from such work,”
Laws like the Lokpal Act are to be designed to bring clarity about how public behaviour is to be regulated, not add more confusion to it.NGOs must not be misunderstood as opponents of their own accountability. However, there must be clarity in the application of the law and also a clear understanding of what is "public function or activity" . If not NGOs working for the protection and fulfilment of the rights of the most deprived and marginalised will be targeted through these provisions. Is this the "rule of law" and "equal treatment before the law" that the Constitution guarantees every person.
“India has around 6 million NGOs. Even if we assume that only 50 percent, or 3 million, are government-funded, and if we take an average of four board members and 4 staffers per NGO, that leaves us with 24 million public servants for Lokpal to monitor." Can the Lokpal manage this? Will it also have the time to monitor the 20 million public servants employed by the state?
This section of the Lokpal Bill was created to harass NGOs doing good work which happens to be unpopular or inconvenient for the government for whatever reason. It is not actually meant to root out the frauds or those who are misusing public money because the systems which exist for that purpose are not being utilized.
Those of them who are honest, committed and genuine will comply with Lokpal requirements. Those who are hiding assets or laundering funds will continue to do so and yet another government office will be created where papers pile up endlessly and needlessly.
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