The PM ‘CARES’ But For Who?

Must Read

Ed-Tech Companies and the Consumer Protection Act

In the present time when the whole country is getting back to normal after the wrath of the Coronavirus,...

The Right to Information and its Working of 15 years

On 12th October 2020, RTI finished fifteen years since its commencement. The question remains whether the legislation stands up to...

An Insight into Custodial Death in India

“The occurrence of Custodial deaths in the world’s greatest democracy has raised the eyebrows of every citizen and shaken...

Implications in Travel Insurance in Light of the COVID-19 Crisis

As the world, today is crippled by this once in a century pandemic and as of date more than...

Second-Round Effects of Rent Control Laws: The Argentine Case

Introduction In colonial India, a city had an issue with its cobra population, which was a problem clearly in need...

Why Are the Big Techs of Silicon Valley Accused of Anti-Competitive Behaviours?

The big tech giants of the Silicon Valley are facing major challenges with relation to their monopolistic powers after...

Follow us

The Prime Minister created a dedicated emergency fund in the wake of COVID- 19 pandemic. This fund recently came under backlash. The PMO appealed to the country for donations in light of the severe health and economic consequences posed by the COVID-19.

The PMO stated that donations to the fund would qualify as CSR activity and would be exempted from tax. This new fund is the Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund. The PM CARES fund for short. The fund has received huge donations from individuals and organizations alike. The donors include companies like ONGC and Bharat petroleum. 

A student from Bengaluru has recently filed an RTI application regarding the fund. The RTI seeks information about the formation of the fund.

The applicant wanted copies of the trust deeds of the fund. He also wanted all Orders and Notifications relating to its creation and operation. But the Public Information officer failed to disclose this information. Their answer was that the fund is not a public authority. Thus, the fund does not fall within the ambit of section 2(h) of the Right to Information Act, 2005.

The denial of the details of this fund created quite a controversy. This is especially because the Prime Minister is the Chairman of the Fund. Moreover, three cabinet ministers are its trustees. The opposition too has criticized the creation of this fund. Their main contention is that there already exists a similar fund for this purpose. This is the Prime Minister National Relief Fund. It is important to note that PMNRF serves the same purpose as PM CARES but with openness. 

Earlier instances of rejection of the RTI application

A Noida resident filed the second application. This RTI sought information about the usage of PM CARES fund. The applicant also sought clarification on 12 other points about its formation. On 27th April, the PMO rejected his application as well. They replied that it is not possible to combine all the requests into a single application.

Further, they stated that the applicant needs to file these requests separately. The applicant must also pay for each request. Otherwise, the application would stand rejected. 

A plea was filed in the Delhi High Court seeking to declare the PM CARES Fund as a ‘public authority’ under the RTI Act. Justice Navin Chawla conducted this hearing through video conferencing. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta represented the PMO at the trial. He said that he will file a response explaining why this petition should be quashed. The High Court listed the matter for further hearing on August 28th, 2020.

Public authority under the RTI Act

The question is, if the PM CARES fund is not a public authority then what exactly is a public authority? The RTI Act, 2005 defines a public authority. Any authority, body or institution of self-government established or constituted:

a) By or under the constitution.

b) By any other law made by parliament. 

c) By any other law made by the state legislature. 

d) By notification issued or order made by the appropriate government.

Declaring that the fund is not a public authority is quite problematic. For one, it is like keeping the citizens of the country under a shadow. It is every individual’s right to know how the fund is put up to use. They also have a right check that it is not misused since they too have contributed towards the fund. The fund uses the national emblem and the government domain name on the fund’s website. As mentioned before, three cabinet ministers are its trustees. Yet it is unclear why the fund does not fall within the scope of public authority. 

Is the fund subject to audit?

The CAG of India, Rajiv Mehrishi has stated that his office will not audit the fund. This is because it is a charitable organisation. It is based on donations from individuals and corporations. There is also speculation that on 23rd April 2020, a company called M/s SARC & Associates was appointed as auditor for the fund. The company belongs to one Sunil Kumar Gupta who himself is a staunch RSS man. If this is true, it would be interesting to see how ‘independently’ the PM CARES fund is audited.

Conclusion

There are a few points that the PMO needs to clarify and a few questions that need be answered about the PM CARES fund. First, where any leaders of the opposition aware or consulted to create the fund? Second, under which Act was the fund created? Third, what led to the establishment of a brand-new fund despite the existence of the PMNRF fund since 1948? This fund serves the same purpose as the PM CARES fund. Fourth, did the PM and the trustees use due process to establish the fund? All these points need some clarity and transparency. 

The citizens of the country have a right to know whether this fund was created on a shaky legal foundation. The government is duty-bound to disclose the information about the PM CARES fund. It will be interesting to see if the PM ‘cares’ enough to disclose this much deserved information about the fund.


Libertatem.in is now on Telegram. Follow us for regular legal updates and judgements from the court. Follow us on Google News, InstagramLinkedInFacebook & Twitter. You can also subscribe for our Weekly Email Updates. You can also contribute stories like this and help us spread awareness for a better society. Submit Your Post Now.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Latest News

Federal Court Denied Involvement of US Department of Justice in Trump’s Defamation Lawsuit

Background  The Plaintiff, E .Jean Carroll, published a book where she wrote that a businessman, Donald J Trump had raped her in a dressing room,...

SC Stays Order Restraining Physical Campaigns in the Madhya Pradesh Bye-Elections

On the 26th of October, a Bench was set up which comprised Justice AM Khanwilkar, Justice Dinesh Maheshwari, and Justice Sanjiv Khanna. They heard...

Lawsuit Filed Against Uber for Discriminatory “Star Rating System”

The lawsuit was bought in the District Court of North California against Uber. The plaintiff claims class-action status on behalf of all the minority...

Bombay High Court To Hear Plea Seeking Removal of Chairperson of National Commission for Women

A Writ Petition had been filed in the Bombay High Court challenging the conduct of the Chairperson of the National Commission for Women. The...

Bombay High Court Passes Order To Clarify and Modify Previous Order When State of Maharashtra Moved Praecipe

Division Bench of Bombay High Court consisting of Justice S. V. Gangapurwala and Justice Shrikant D. Kulkarni had passed an Order on 25th October...

The European Court of Human Rights Orders Germany To Pay Non-Pecuniary Damages for Prison Strip-Searches 

A serving German prisoner was repeatedly stripped searched for non-legitimate purposes. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) found that Germany had violated the...

Lack of Independent Witness Doesn’t Vitiate Conviction: Supreme Court

A three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court in Rajesh Dhiman v State of Himachal Pradesh clarified the law in case of lack of independent...

Madras High Court Observes Unexplained Delay in Procedural Safeguards, Quashes Detention Through Writ Petition

A Writ Petition was filed under Article 226 to issue a writ of Habeas Corpus. The petitioner P. Lakshmi, called for records of the...

UK Court of Appeal Rules Home Department’s Deportation Policy of Immigrants Unlawful

Britain’s Court of Appeal quashed the Home Department’s deportation policy, declaring it unlawful; criticizing it for being too stringent on immigrants to comply with. Background The...

Supreme Court Stays Order Restraining Physical Campaigns in the Madhya Pradesh Bye-Elections

On the 26th of October, a Bench was set up which comprised Justice AM Khanwilkar, Justice Dinesh Maheshwari, and Justice Sanjiv Khanna. They heard...

More Articles Like This

- Advertisement -