New Delhi: The Union government on Thursday defended the setting up of PM-CARES fund, arguing in the Supreme Court that the existence of the statutory National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF) “would not prohibit the creation of a different fund”.
“It is submitted that there are several funds which are either established earlier or now for carrying out various relief works. PM-CARES is one such fund with voluntary donations. It is submitted that there exists a fund stipulated under section 46 of the DMA which is called NDR Fund. However, mere existence of a statutory fund would not prohibit in creation of a different fund like PM Cares Fund which provides for voluntary donations,” the government said in an affidavit filed before the Supreme Court.
The apex court was responding to a PIL filed by an NGO seeking transfer of funds from PM-CARES to NDRF.
The PIL urged the court to direct the government to prepare, notify and implement a national plan under the Disaster Management Act to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. The Centre has been “refraining from divulging information” about the money “contributed to the PM CARES Fund till date”, the petition stated.
The government submitted to the court that transferring money received in PM-CARES Fund to NDRF is “not maintainable” as the former is created under separate provisions.
“It is submitted that a prayer being made seeking a direction of this Hon’ble court under Article 32 of the Constitution of India directing the funds received by PM Cares Fund to be credited to NDRF is neither maintainable on merits nor is otherwise maintainable under Article 32 as all funds other than the funds stipulated under section 46 of DM Act, 2005 are separate, different and distinct created separately under separate provisions,” the Centre told the Supreme Court.
Opposition parties have been vehement in their criticism of the Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM-CARES) Fund ever since it was set up for the COVID-19 pandemic.