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Delhi High Court Seeks Centre's Response On Plea For Declaring PM CARES Fund As State Under Article 12 Of Constitution

Akshita Saxena
17 Aug 2021 9:00 AM GMT
Delhi High Court Seeks Centres Response On Plea For Declaring PM CARES Fund As State Under Article 12 Of Constitution
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It is impermissible to create a zone of opacity that shuts out light of Constitution, the Petitioner submitted.

The Delhi High Court today asked the Centre to file its reply on a petition seeking declaration that PM CARES Fund is "State" under Article 12 of the Constitution.A Division Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh has asked the Central Government to file its reply in the matter within 1 week and has fixed the case for hearing on September 13.The Bench heard Senior Advocate...

The Delhi High Court today asked the Centre to file its reply on a petition seeking declaration that PM CARES Fund is "State" under Article 12 of the Constitution.

A Division Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh has asked the Central Government to file its reply in the matter within 1 week and has fixed the case for hearing on September 13.

The Bench heard Senior Advocate Shyam Divan, appearing on behalf of Petitioner Samayak Gangwal, who expressed concern over opacity in a Fund of "public and permanent character". Divan clarified that the Petitioner is not levelling allegations of misuse of Fund in the present, however, the plea is conceived to avoid future charges of corruption/ abuse.

He highlighted that the PM CARES Fund runs under the name of a "constitutional functionary who cannot escape principles enunciated in the Constitution nor can he contract out of the Constitution."

"Be you ever so high, the laws are above you," Divan submitted citing various Supreme Court judgments.

He stated that all constitutional functionaries pledge an oath of allegiance to the Constitution. Thus, it is impermissible for them to create a "zone of opacity that shuts out light of Constitution." He contended that the only manner in which a Constitutional functionary can escape from the duties imposed by the Constitution is by renouncing its office and working in the private sector.

He therefore sought declaration of the PM CARES Fund as a State. This he said, would attract consequential directions for: (i) disclosing the Fund's audit reports periodically; (ii) disclosing the Fund's quarterly details of donations received, utilization thereof and resolutions on expenditure of donations.

Divan further submitted that in case the Court in not convinced that PM CARES Fund is a State under Article 12, then the Petitioner seeks grant of the following alternate prayers:

(i) Centre should widely publicize that PM CARES is not a Government owned fund;

(ii) PM CARES Fund should be restrained from using "PM" in its names/ website;

(iii) PM CARES Fund should be restrained from using the State Emblem;

(iv) PM CARES Fund should be restrained from using the domain name "gov" in its website;

(v) PM CARES Fund should be restrained from using PM's Office as its official address

(vi) Centre should not extend any Secretarial Support to the Fund.

Significantly, the Supreme Court had last year observed that there is no occasion for audit of PM CARES Fund by the Comptroller & Auditor General of India as it is a public charitable trust.

Case Title: Samayak Gangwal v. CPIO, PMO

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