Associations can't demand donations, say legal experts
PANAJI: Members of the Campal residents association who on Thursday
refuted allegations of extortion levelled against them and the ward
councillor by film line producers, and defended collection of
donations by their association, have attracted the criticism of legal
experts who question the legality of the collection.
Former law commission member Cleofato Coutinho said, "Demanding
donations is impermissible." Coutinho said that while voluntary
donations may be acceptable, demanding for donations was definitely
not. "If somebody is demanding donations for permitting film shoots
because a location is sought after, then it amounts to extortion," he
"Nobody should collect money without the authority of law," Coutinho
said and added that the government collects taxes with the authority
of law. He felt it would not be proper for associations to collect
money in this form and cautioned that it could turn to extortion.
There is also the view that since the residents' association is not a
registered body it is unaccountable and therefore not a legal entity.
Advocate and former MP Amrut Kansar said, "If it is an unregistered
body, how can they claim donations? They have no right to demand
donations. If it was a registered society, it was a different matter."
The reasons given by the residents' association for demanding money
from film shoots, that it was for the upkeep of the area, were also
Kansar asked, "Is the function (upkeep of the area) given to them by
the municipal council or the government?" and stressed that the issue
needs to be looked at objectively. He pointed out that giving of a
receipt doesn't make the donation legal.
Coutinho also felt that the reasons given by the association for
collecting money were not valid. "Upkeep of the area is the job of the
local municipal council," he said.
On Thursday, Panaji mayor Surendra Furtado had said that if the
association was collecting money for development of the area, then the
Corporation of the City of Panaji would stop carrying out any
development in the area. "I will not send sweepers to the area,"
Furtado had said.