- Supreme Court rejects plea seeking to transfer the Funds from PM-CARES
- The plea was to transfer the funds to NDRF
- Supreme Court said funds collected by the PM-CARES Fund are entirely different
- A three-judge bench delivered the verdict today
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court of India said that the funds collected under the PM-CARES Fund for the novel Coronavirus pandemic need not be transferred to the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF). The top court added that the court cannot direct the government to do so and the funds which have been collected by the PM-CARES Fund are entirely different and that these funds are of charitable trusts.
The Supreme Court added that the government is free to transfer money to the disaster response fund if it feels appropriate to do so.
As the Supreme Court heard the petition against the PM CARES Fund, the court said that any contribution or grant can be credited to the NDRF and anyone can contribute to this fund as a voluntary contribution.
The petition was filed by an NGO called Centre for Public Interest Litigation, seeking a direction that all present and future fund collections contributions and grants under the PM CARES Fund for the COVID-19 pandemic should be transferred to National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF).
The petition filed in the Supreme Court also said the PM CARES Fund violates the provisions of the Disaster Management Act.
The top court said that there is no need for a new plan and that one under the National Disaster Management Act is enough to deal with COVID-19.
PM CARES which stands for Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM CARES) Fund was set up by the Central Government on the 28th of March to combat with any emergency situation like the one currently posed by the COBID-19 pandemic.
The PM CARES Fund also provide relief to those affected.
The Prime Minister is the ex-officio chairman of the PM CARES Fund and the Defence, Home and the Finance Ministers are ex-officio trustees.
The verdict was delivered via video conferencing by a three judge bench which comprised of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and M R Shah.
Soon after the verdict was passed, Union Minister Jitendra Singh tweeted, “Supreme Court of India upholds the validity of #PMCaresFund. Refuses to instruct government to transfer fund to NDRF. Hope that should send out a message… loud and clear,”.
Lawyer- Activist Prashant Bhushan who was recently found guilty in contempt of court case by the Supreme Court of India also tweeted soon after the verdict writing. “Unfortunate that the SC allows the non-transparent & unaccountable PM-Cares fund set up as a secret trust to garner money in the name of Covid relief, rather than transferring such funds to the Statutory NDRF which is accessible under RTI & audited by CAG.”
Unfortunate that the SC allows the non-transparent & unaccountable PM-Cares fund set up as a secret trust to garner money in the name of Covid relief, rather than transferring such funds to the Statutory NDRF which is accessible under RTI & audited by CAG. https://t.co/jZX6Q5Y8EJ— Prashant Bhushan (@pbhushan1) August 18, 2020
Many people including many from the Congress Party have come forward and questioned the legal validity of the PM CARES Fund. Many have even questioned the need for PM CARES Fund pointing that a similar Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF) was already in existence.
Concerns were also raised over Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) benefits being denied to the contributions to state disaster relief funds, which added to the fact that the fund is not under the audit of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG).
However, the Centre stepped forward and defended the OM CARES Fund claiming that it is a voluntary fund while the budgetary allocations took care of the disaster response fund. The centre also argued that just because the latter exists does not restrict or forbid the formation of the PM CARES Fund for the voluntary donations.