Workshop on Facilitating Compliance with Lokpal and Lokayukta Act 2013 organized by Socio Research & Reform Foundation (NGO)-SRRF
SRRF’s Centre for Responsible CSO Boards (CSObGOV) organized a half day session Facilitating Compliance with Lokpal Act by NGOs at India International Centre (Annexe) on Thursday 7th July 2016 form 2:00 PM to 5:PM
The workshop discussed the latest provisions in the Lokpal & Lokayukta Act 2013. It particularly looked at the applicability of the Act to NGOs, explaining the provisions, going through the format of Returns prescribed (field by field) and consequences of non-compliance. The aim of the workshop was to facilitate NGOs comply with the legislation and bring clarity on this issue to the Sector.
There were 70 (+) participants at the workshop from CSOs (NGOs), and individuals involved and working in this sector.
After a welcome by the President of SRRF, Mr Vijay Sardana, which set the context for the consultation in the light of the need for CSOs to be accountable and transparent, since they performed such an important development role in the country. Mr Sardana highlighted the fact that the Act could be a way to strengthen Boards with strong and good governance and leadership. His note was then added to by CA Subhash Mittal, by highlighting the fact that the Act and its ramifications needed to be looked at in the context of a difficult environment for NGOs and the need for greater accountability and transparency, and ways and means to bring a positive focus on the good development work that CSOs (NGOs) do.
First Technical Session by Mr Mittal covered – major provisions of the Act; applicability to NGOs; annual return filing; consequences of not filing; and current status of implications.
Mr Deepak Bansal then went into the details of the preparation of the annual returns and took the audience through this part, section by section.
The entire proceedings were interspersed with lively questions and repartees.
Some of the key concerns that were voiced were as follows:
- This Act seeks to cover individuals who either work in CSOs (NGOs) or are Board and Executive Committee members- the obligation to report was not of the organization but of the individual.
- As of now the returns have to be filed in with the competent authority mentioned in the Act by 31st July 2016; most people felt this was unrealistic
- Board members were resigning, as would HNIs (High Net-worth Individuals) who have joined these Boards to contribute to development of society through resources and their expertise. They are not remunerated for these efforts in the NGOs that they support
- Putting this information on websites of MHA violates the confidentiality of this information for the individual concerned
- Many aspects of the Act are linked to interpretation for example to what extent staff is covered and which staff. Are all Board members covered or only those who hold the office of a Secretary, Treasurer or Chairperson.
- NGOs should take up the issues with the right and competent authority in the MHA – appreciating the ambit and focus of the Act but asking for clarifications as well as why it should apply only to CSOs (NGOs) who only deal with limited resources as opposed to the Corporate sector and its office bearers
- The implementation has been postponed many times when the Act earlier applied only to Public servants who were Government employees
- A final recommendation was to join up Groups on this issue and develop a concrete action plan to take to the right authority in the Government with recommendations for changes ASAP – include the comments from this workshop- in a preliminary letter to this authority followed by a meeting.
The session closed with a vote of thanks by Ms. Alka Pathak, Member, Core Team, SRRF’s Centre for Responsible CSO Boards and some high tea for the participants.