As the NGO functionaries recover from the almost ‘panic like situation’ in the Sector, there is an urgent need to examine and understand, did we become tools in the hands of the bureaucracy cum executive combined. Need to understand what has transpired so far
- On 20th June 2016 Govt notifies S.14 (g) & (h) making it mandatory to file assets & liabilities return by functionaries of NGOs.
- Understandably the Sector goes in overdrive trying to understand the implications as well as lobbying to have the requirement delayed.
- Govt brings hastily prepared Lokpal Amendment Bill 2016 in the parliament on 27th July and has it approved in both houses of parliament, within two days of presenting the bill.
- The Govt does not make any effort to pass the Lokpal Amendment Bill 2014, which has been pending in parliament since Dec’2014 mainly to allow Leader of the largest party in Parliament in lieu of Leader of Opposition for selection of Lokpal, clearly indicating that the Govt has little interest in putting in place the Lokpal Institution.
- Lokpal Amendment Bill 2016 authorizes Govt to comprehensively prescribe the ‘form and manner of declaration of assets & liabilities by the public servants’
- Thus in one stroke, the govt has taken the power in its own hands of the entire process which was defined in the Act : what to be declared, how often to be declared and how govt will deal with this information so declared. Earlier Act required the information to be declared within 30 days of appointment, and thereafter every year by a declared govt functionary, PM, ministers and MPs and to make it public.
- All this without giving any relaxation to the NGO functionaries, who still remain defined as public servant (S.14 (g) & (h)) and have to file the returns after the govt decides the format. All the Govt has done is given extension to 31st December 2016, which in any case is applicable to all public servants.
Thus using the anxieties of the NGO Sector to its own benefit, the bureaucracy has taken in its own hands how and what needs to be declared. Major outcome of 2011 anti-corruption movement seems to be in danger of getting lost in the legal / bureaucratic maze.