Centre may modify CSR policy to extend benefits to kin of police personnel killed in action across states

New Delhi: The Centre may tweak the corporate social responsibility policy to extend benefits to the families of police personnel killed in action across the states. Top government sources told Firstpost that the proposal was mooted late last year following a discussion on whether amendment was required in rules to include police martyrs and their families as beneficiaries.

"It was conceived as part of honouring police bravery that was initiated on the direction of the prime minister. Their heroism and extreme courage while facing tough situation hardly gets noticed. The message from the top was to recognise sacrifice of the heroes and help the families,” sources said.

The documents reviewed by Firstpost show that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has directed the Ministry of Home Affairs to work out a specific plan to honour police and paramilitary force personnel killed in action in the states. The prime minister observed that institutionalisation of such a plan was required so that the actions of the security forces gets registered in popular perception. Modi suggested that programmes need to be held in schools where district-specific lists of personnel killed in action could be showcased in order to inspire students as well as locals.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

“Efforts should be made to install plaques in the memory of martyrs in their respective schools where they have studied so that the students become aware of their sacrifices,” Modi said.

Section 135 of the Companies Act, 2013 mandates every company, above the specified threshold of turnover or net worth or net profit, to spend at least two percent of the average net profits earned during the three immediately preceding financial years on CSR activities specified in Schedule VII of the Act.

In February 2014, the then UPA government headed by Manmohan Singh had introduced amendments in the Act, including 10 new sectors where CSR funds could be utilised. Besides social sector, culture and Prime Minister National Relief Fund, the amendments incorporated the provision of expenditure to benefit armed forces, war widows and their dependents. In 2014-15, a total of Rs 2.55 crore was spent on armed forces veterans and war widows.

When the NDA government came to power, it decided to set up a high-level committee to look into the loopholes and ensure proper mechanism for monitoring the progress of implementation of CSR policies by private companies and public sector undertakings. The committee had suggested the introduction of an omnibus clause in Schedule VII of the Act to suggest that CSR activities must be for the larger public good and for any activity that serves public purpose and promotes the well being of the people, with special attention to the needs of underprivileged.

It is pertinent to mention that Ministry of Corporate Affairs had issued sanctions to prosecute 221 companies in 2014-15 for violating CSR rules. Notwithstanding, at least 66 public sector enterprises were found violating the rules in 2016-17 as the amount spent by them was less than prescribed. During the same year, at least 15 state-owned and 331 private sector companies did not spend money on CSR activities.

In 2015-16, the CSR expenditure for armed forces veterans and war widows increased to Rs 10.45 crore, which was very a small portion of total expenditure of Rs 13,827 crore in various other sectors, and it further came down to Rs 2.05 crore in the financial year 2016-17. For paramilitary force personnel killed in action, the government is running 'homage and support to India's bravehearts' through which individual contributions are being made for their dependents. It covers eight forces, including Assam Rifles, Border Security Force (BSF), Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), National Security Guard (NG) and Sashatra Seema Bal (SSB).

“To increase the scope of CSR funds by including police martyrs could be a good move since a large number of police and paramilitary personnel are sacrificing their lives while combating insurgency and maintaining law and order. If you look at the data, more than 900 security forces personnel have been killed only in Maoist insurgency in the last 6-7 years. The number could go up if we include North East, Jammu and Kashmir, and casualties in other states,” sources said.

Data available between September 2016 and August 2017 suggests that 383 police personnel were killed in 11 months. Uttar Pradesh Police had suffered maximum casualties with 76 personnel, followed by 56 from BSF, and 49 from CRPF. According to the government, an average of 700 police personnel lay down their lives every year in the line of duty.

Since social media platforms are growing rapidly, the government is also considering focusing on adopting new tools to reach out to the masses with the stories of unsung men and women fighting to keep the nation safe.

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Updated Date: Aug 23, 2018 18:43:01 IST

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