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NGOs getting government funds comes under RTI: Supreme Court

THE ASIAN AGE. | PARMOD KUMAR
Published : Sep 18, 2019, 3:42 am IST
Updated : Sep 18, 2019, 3:42 am IST

There may be cases where the finance is more than 50 per cent but still may not be called substantially financed.

Supreme Court of India (Photo: Asian Age)
 Supreme Court of India (Photo: Asian Age)

New Delhi: In a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court on Tuesday said that the non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the educational institutions including colleges and schools which are substantially financed by the government are covered under the definition of public bodies and thus come within the ambit of the Right to Information Act.

“We have no hesitation in holding that an NGO substantially financed, directly or indirectly, by funds provided by the appropriate government would be a public authority amenable to the provisions of the Right to Information Act,” said a bench of Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Aniruddha Bose in their judgment today.

Speaking for the bench, Justice Gupta said, “A society which may not be owned or controlled by the government, may be an NGO but if it is substantially financed directly or indirectly by the government it would fall within the ambit of sub-clause (ii) of the Section 2(h) of the Right to Information Act, 2005.”

In our view, the court said that “substantial” means “a large portion” and it does not necessarily have to mean “a major portion or more than 50 per cent”.

Having laid down that “substantial financing” did not mean “major portion or more than 50 per cent” funding of the NGO’s expanses, the court said, “No hard and fast rule can be laid down in this regard. Substantial financing can be both direct and indirect.”

Illustrating it, the court said, if a land in a city is given free of cost or on heavy discount to hospitals, educational institutions or such other body, this in itself could also be substantial financing.

“The very establishment of such an institution, if it is dependent on the largesse of the State in getting the land at a cheap price, would mean that it is substantially financed,” the court said elaborating on substantial financing by the State.

The court further said that the question whether an NGO or body is substantially financed by the government is a question of fact which has to be determined on the facts of each case.

There may be cases where the finance is more than 50 per cent but still may not be called substantially financed.

Tags: supreme court, right to information act