New Delhi: The Supreme Court has refused to order the transfer of the money collected under the PM CARES Fund set up for COVID-19 relief to the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF).
A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subshash Reddy and MR Shah gave the ruling on Monday while hearing a petition filed by CPIL on the matter.
The Bench clarified that the funds collected under PM CARES is entirely different from the NDRF as the former is a charitable trust, reported Bar and Bench.
The court further said contributions to the PM CARES Fund are voluntary, and that there is no statutory prohibition on contributions made to the NDRF.
The Union Home Ministry had opposed the transfer of the funds by making a submission in court that the PM CARES Fund was a public charitable trust and whoever wants can voluntarily donate in it.
This submission was contested by the petitioner’s counsel, Dushyant Dave, who highlighted that while nobody’s bona fides were under the scanner, the only question was pertaining to the circumventing of the National Disaster Management Act for setting up of the PM CARES Fund.
The audit mechanism of the PM CARES was also questioned with Dave pointing out that the NDRF has to be audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) while PM CARES is audited by some private auditor.
In a related development earlier, it was revealed through a Right to Information (RTI) response received by a lawyer that the PM CARES Fund does not come under the scope of “public authority” under the RTI Act. In effect, no citizen can obtain details pertaining to the Fund through the RTI route.