The Maharashtra government is watching your donations

Apr 19, 2017, 09:15 IST | Dharmendra Jore

The state has decided to regulate the collection of donations such as for religious functions, for charity, and by NGOs; it will also be mandatory to get online permission from the Charity Commissioner's office to collect them

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The state government will monitor collection of chanda or donations for religious functions. It has decided to regulate this collection and its use, and of things thus gathered. There will also be a new law about donations.

Permission mandatory
Henceforth, individuals, or private and non-government organisations will have to mandatorily seek online permission from Charity Commissioner's office to collect donations, and spend them. Donations, in cash or kind, if collected without permission, will be deposited in the state's public trust fund.

This means if a person or a group of persons, say volunteers of Ganesh or Navratri Mandals, or an organisation, or individuals affiliated to a religion, and NGOs registered or unregistered with the Charity Commissioner's office, knock at your doors asking for donation in money or kind; you will be empowered to ask them if they have the requisite permission. And if they have it, you should also be able to ask them for statement of expenditure, once they are done with the events.

Metros like Mumbai have many such individuals or volunteers who take to the streets or visit peoples' homes to collect donations. Many such organisations are headed by political leaders and are also directly affiliated to recognised parties. Though political leaders sponsor such events to some extent, party workers are also accused of extorting money from traders, shop owners, and corporate companies.

Amended law
An amended law about donations will also bring crowd funding under its ambit, because not many institutes which resort to crowd funding make the statement of expenditure public, or guarantee patrons that the money collected will be spent for a purpose for which they are seeking the assistance.

A government release said the reform is aimed at preventing irregularities. It said a proposal to this effect was passed by the state Cabinet on Tuesday. As per the decision, the Public Trusts Act, 1950, will be amended, tabled and approved in the state legislature in its monsoon session.

The Charity Commissioner's office will facilitate online permission for the interested parties. It will be mandatory for the office to grant permission in seven days and in case of failure to do so, it will be deemed as granted.

However, if inquiry into any irregularity finds that donations in cash or kind were collected in an unauthorised manner, then the collection will be diverted to the state's public charity trust management fund.

7 No of days within which the Charity Commissioner's office has to grant permission

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