The Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situation Fund (PM-CARES Fund), which is a charitable trust under the law, has informed the Delhi High Court that the trust’s fund is not a government fund and that its amount does not go into the Consolidated Fund of India.
“It is not permissible to disclose whether the trust is a “State” or other authority within the meaning of Article 12 of the Constitution of India, or whether it is a ‘public authority’ within the meaning of Section 2[h] of the Right to Information Act, Section 8 in general, and provisions contained in subsections [e] and [j], in particular, of the Right to Information Act, regardless of whether the trust is a ‘State’ or other authority within the meaning of Section 2[h], Pradeep Kumar Srivastava, an Under-Secretary at the PMO said in a reply.
The proposal was made in response to a petition that asked for the PM-CARES Fund to be declared “The State” under Article 12 of the Constitution. The petition claims that inhabitants of the country are harmed because a fund established by the Prime Minister and steered by the Prime Minister and ministers of Home, Defense, and Finance has been labeled a fund over which the government has no control.
Srivastava told the court that he serves on the trust on an honorary basis, that it operates transparently, and that its funds are audited by an auditor who is a Chartered Accountant from the Comptroller and Auditor General of India’s panel.
The audited report, together with details of the trust’s use of funds received, is posted on the trust’s official website to ensure openness, according to the reply.
The trust receives all donations via online payments, cheques, or bank draft, according to the statement. The money collected is audited, and the trust fund’s expenditures are posted on the website, according to the statement.
“In light of the specific provisions of Section 8 of the Right to Information Act, the relief sought against para 5.3 of the trust deed dated 27.3.2020 pales into insignificance,” Srivastava said, referring to a prayer against a paragraph in the trust deed that states that it was not created by or under the Constitution or by any law passed by Parliament or the state Assembly.
The PM-CARES Fund was established by the Prime Minister in March 2020 for the noble aim of offering aid to citizens in the aftermath of the Covid-19 outbreak, according to the petition filed by Samyak Gangwal. The PM-CARES Fund, however, issued a copy of the trust deed on its website in December 2020, according to which it was not constituted by or under the Constitution or by any statute passed by Parliament, according to the plea.