The case in hand is Centre For Public Interest Litigation v. UOI. On 17 June 2020, the SC issued a notice in a plea seeking the transfer of PM CARES Fund set up for COVID-19 relief to the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF).
Brief Facts of the Case
Advocate Prashant Bhushan filed the petition on behalf of the Centre for Public Interest Litigation. The plea sought for the setting up of a National Plan under Section 10 and 11 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005. The aim was to deal with the current pandemic.
The Court issued a notice that directs the Centre to file its reply affidavit within a period of 4 weeks. The Bench consisted of Justices Ashok Bhushan, SK Kaul, and MR Shah.
The Petitioner stated that the Centre can use the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) to fight against COVID-19 pandemic. Under Section 46(1)(b) of the DM Act 2005, all the contributions shall be credited to the NDRF instead of PM CARES Fund. Also, Section 72 of the DM Act has the provisions for anything inconsistent therewith contained in any other law.
The plea claimed that authorities are not utilising the NDRF. Additionally, it also pointed out the lack of transparency with regard to the PM CARES Fund. Since PM CARES Fund is outside the ambit of “public authority”, it is not subject to CAG Audits and is outside the purview of the RTI Act.
As a result, the petitioner prays for the contributions to the PM CARES Fund to be transferred to NDRF. This is so that the statutory provisions of the DM Act, 2005 are followed.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta represented the Centre. The Court observed that the Centre did not submit the National Plan. To this, Mehta responded that the Plan “was on the website”.
Advocate Dushyant Dave represented the petitioner side. Dave abruptly said that “the Court was dictating what the respondent was dictating.”
Subsequently, Mehta countered this statement, saying, “This is contemptuous! Some courts have to take cognisance of this behaviour.”
As a result, the Bench then said, “You cannot say this. We are issuing the notice. Let the counter be filed.”
The Court directed the Centre to respond on the prayer seeking for transfer of funds from PM CARES Fund to NDRF. Additionally, they posted the next hearing of the case after 4 weeks.
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