Legality of PM Cares Fund challenged

There is compelling need for transparency and accountability in Fund’s affairs, a petition in the Supreme Court says.

August 07, 2021 08:53 pm | Updated 11:33 pm IST - NEW DELHI

An appeal challenging the legality of the PM Cares Fund in the Supreme Court has alleged that “oceans of money” are being diverted from Ministries, government agencies, departments, etc, to the fund as “contributions” every day.

Petitioner Divya Pal Singh, a resident of Uttar Pradesh, alleged that “unimaginable and unfathomable amounts of public money is pumped unabatedly everyday, into the coffers of the Fund”.

“Shockingly, the money even from government-controlled funds such as ‘Assistance related to Bhopal Gas Leak Disaster’ meant for the victims of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy, has not been spared and is also being drained into the said Fund,” the petition, drawn by a group of young lawyers Rajesh Inamdar, Shashwat Anand, Jawad Ur Rehman, Ashutosh Mani Tripathi, Syed Ahmed Faizan Mohd Kumail Haider and Amit Pai, said.

There was a compelling need for transparency and accountability in the affairs of the Fund formed to monetarily help the fight against the pandemic, it stated.

“The ideals of democracy can never be realised, unless there is transparency, accountability and responsiveness in the affairs of governance. The citizen’s right to information is increasingly being recognised as an important mechanism to promote openness, transparency and accountability in the affairs of the State,” the petition, settled by senior advocate Devadatt Kamat, submitted.

HC’s dismissal of case

The appeal noted that the Allahabad High Court dismissed the case after it was “misled” by the government into concluding that the Supreme Court had upheld the validity of the Fund in a case filed by an NGO, Centre for PIL, in 2020.

In fact, Mr. Singh argued that the CPIL case was concerned about the transfer of money in PM Cares Fund to the National Disaster Relief Fund and the framing of a National Plan to combat the pandemic. The 2020 case had not questioned the validity of the Fund itself, he contended.

The appeal claimed that there was data available on the government website of Public Financial

Management System, which revealed “lakhs and lakhs” in contributions received by the Fund from government bodies.

“Fathomless oceans of money have secretively been poured into the PM CARES Fund, starting from February 4, 2020, even prior to the official announcement/declaration of the creation of the Fund, on March 28, 2020,” it said.

“It is interesting to note that on one hand, the trust deed of the PM Cares Fund lays down that the trust is neither intended to be, nor is owned, controlled or substantially financed by any government or any instrumentality thereof. However, the same is completely belied by the fact that everyday, incalculable sums of money are being pumped into the PM-Cares Fund from various Ministries, agencies and departments of the Government,” it alleged.

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