A law regulating charities has been enacted to meet FATF requirements, says SHC – Pakistan

KARACHI: The Provincial Department of Social Welfare has notified the High Court of Sindh that the Charities Registration Legislation has been enacted on the advice of the Ministry of Home Affairs to fulfill a condition of the Financial Action Task Force ( FATF) aimed at developing a uniform mechanism for registering, regulating and administering the collection and use of funds by charities.

He further contended that such enactment has also been passed in other provinces in the public interest to curb the practice of money laundering and the use of charitable funds for terrorist financing.

The Secretary of the Department of Social Welfare, in comments filed in response to a series of petitions challenging the Sindh Charities Registration and Regulation Act 2019, further stated that the Act aims to ensure the transparency in the collection and use of international and local charitable funds. NGO.

It has been argued that the law provides a one-stop shop for all charities to resolve their legal issues and ensure transparency of charitable funds provided by domestic and international donors.

Court to hear pleas against Sindh Charities Registration Act next month

In its response, the Department of Social Welfare stated that prior to the legislation in question, NGOs were registered under many laws and the mechanism for their monitoring and evaluation was not available properly and that these organizations benefited from dual regulation.

He said the department was following government policies in establishing the Charitable Commission for the registration and regulation of all NGOs and voluntary agencies to monitor and ensure that charitable funds were not misused.

All NGOs were invited through advertisements in major newspapers to submit their performance and audit reports and election procedures to the department and to renew their registration from time to time, but these NGOs had no submitted the required documents nor contracted the department, he concluded.

A bench of two judges headed by Judge KK Agha ordered his office to consolidate all identical motions and fix them jointly for hearing. The case was adjourned to February 2, as attorneys for the petitioners requested time to review the comments.

However, the bench said the interim order passed earlier for not taking adverse action against the petitioners will continue until the next date.

In an earlier hearing, the Additional Secretary of the Economic Affairs Division (EAD) said that the EAD had formulated the NGO Policy 2013, which was approved by the Cabinet Economic Coordinating Committee with the aim of ensure the effectiveness of foreign aid channeled through NGOs. and other non-profit organizations while safeguarding the national interest.

He had further contended that as per policy, NGO documents were circulated among stakeholders, including security agencies, for clearance and based on stakeholder reports, NGO cases were decided for the signing of a memorandum of understanding.

The petitions were filed by the Indus Hospital & Health Network and several civil society organizations and NGOs against the law, claiming that it was ultra vires and in violation of fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution and liable to be used as a tool of oppression and discrimination. and risked being expelled.

Citing various federal and provincial authorities as defendants, the plaintiffs asked the court to declare that the EAD, one of the defendants, had no statutory support/locus standi and authority to frame, regulate and promulgate the rules of NGO Policy, 2013.

Piler Renewal Case

Meanwhile, the same bench harshly criticized the Ministry of Home Affairs for undue delay in issuing a No Objection Certificate to the Pakistan Institute of Labor Education and Research (Piler) and has directed the Secretary of the Interior to make a decision and file a statement on January 20.

The bench said that the claimant NGO applied for renewal of its license from the Securities Exchange Commission of Pakistan in 2019, but the court was informed at the last hearing that the SECP had requested permission from the Ministry of Finance. interior while the ministry in its comments said it had sought recommendations from relevant agencies and was awaiting their response.

The bench expressed resentment at the department and said that despite the passage of two years, the recommendations had not been made and the department had again filed a formulaic response.

He said this position was completely unacceptable as the Home Secretary cannot wait two years to decide the matter and ordered him to file a statement at the next hearing confirming whether or not the NOC had been granted.

The bench warned that the secretary would be summoned in person if he did not make a decision on the matter before the next hearing.

In its response, the Ministry stated that the petitioner was receiving foreign funding for his projects without prior approval, which was contrary to the NGO Policy 2013 issued by the EAD and the NOC of Security/Intelligence Agencies was a prerequisite to receive such funding.

Posted in Dawn, January 16, 2022

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