Government-funded NGOs come under RTI ambit, says SC

News:The Supreme Court has held that Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) which are substantially funded by the government fall within the ambit of the Right to Information(RTI) Act.

Facts:

Key highlights of judgement: 

  • The Supreme Court has ruled that NGOs which receive considerable finances from the government fall under the category of “public authority” defined in Section 2(h) of the Right to Information (RTI) Act of 2005.
  • This means that they have to disclose vital information ranging from finances to hierarchy to decisions to functioning, to the citizens who apply under RTI.
  • An NGO may also include societies which are neither owned or controlled by the government but if they are substantially funded by the government,directly or indirectly,they come under the RTI Act.

What is Substantial Funding?

  • The court said that substantial funding does not necessarily have to mean a major portion or more than 50%.Substantial financing can be both direct or indirect.
  • It said that if the government gives land in a city free of cost or on heavy discount to hospitals, educational institutions or any such body,this could also be substantial financing.

Additional information:

Right to Information Act, 2005:

  • RTI Act provides for timely disclosure of information by citizens from both central and State Public Authorities.It seeks to empower citizens and promote accountability and transparency.
  • Under the Act,Public Authorities are required to make disclosures on various aspects of their structure and functioning.  
  • This includes (a)disclosure on their organisation (b)functions and structure (c)powers and duties of its officers and employees and (d)Financial information.
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