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No Control Of Central Or State Govts In Functioning Of PM CARES Funds Trust : PMO Tells Delhi High Court

Akshita Saxena
23 Sep 2021 8:37 AM GMT
No Control Of Central Or State Govts In Functioning Of PM CARES Funds Trust : PMO Tells Delhi High Court
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An affidavit has been filed on behalf of the PM-CARES Fund Trust before the Delhi High Court, claiming that it is a public charitable trust and that it is not created by or under the Indian Constitution or any other statute, and the amount received by it does not go in the Consolidated Fund of India.The affidavit filed by the Under Secretary at Prime Minister's Office states that there is...

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An affidavit has been filed on behalf of the PM-CARES Fund Trust before the Delhi High Court, claiming that it is a public charitable trust and that it is not created by or under the Indian Constitution or any other statute, and the amount received by it does not go in the Consolidated Fund of India.

The affidavit filed by the Under Secretary at Prime Minister's Office states that there is no control of either the Central Government or the State Government in the functioning of the PM CARES Trust.

The development comes in plea seeking declaration that PM CARES Fund is "State" under Article 12 of the Constitution.

The Petitioner, Samayak Gangwal, also challenges the PMO's order rejecting his RTI application stating that PM CARES was not a "public authority" within the meaning of Section 2(h) of the RTI Act.

In its reply, the PM CARES Fund has objected to maintainability of the petition, stating that alternative statutory remedies are available to the Petitioner under the RTI Act, 2005.

On merits, the Fund reiterates that it is not "public authority" within the meaning of Section 2(h) of the RTI Act inasmuch as the mandatory statutory requirements of the provision are not in existence.

A Public authority means any authority/ body self-government constituted:

(i) by or under the Constitution; (ii) by any other law made by the Parliament; (iii) by any other law made by State Legislature; (iv) by notification issued or order made by the appropriate Government, and includes any- (v) body owned, controlled or substantially financed; (vi) non-Government organization substantially financed, directly or indirectly by funds provided by the appropriate Government.

In this backdrop, the Fund claims,

"PM CARES Fund has been set up as a public charitable trust and is not created by or under the Constitution of India or by any law made by the Parliament or by any State Legislature… this Trust is neither intended to be or is in fact owned, controlled or substantially financed by any Central Government or State Government or any instrumentality of the any Government. In other words, there is no control of either the Central Government or any State Government/s, either direct or indirect, in functioning of the Trust in any manner whatsoever."

It adds:

  • PM CARES Fund comprises of voluntary donations made by individuals and institutions and is not a part of business or function of the Central Government in any manner;
  • Merely because some Government officer provides ex gratia services to the public trust, can have no relevance;
  • Composition of the board of trustees can never be a determinative factor to ascertain whether the respondent is a "public authority" or not;
  • A Government officer providing secretarial assistance on honorary basis while discharging his official duties can never be a relevant consideration for declaring a body to be a public authority;
  • Mere grant of certain tax exemptions with regard to the voluntary donations made to a public trust is not a determinative factor for the purpose of section 2[h] of the RTI Act;

It is further claimed that the Trust functions with transparency and its funds are audited by an auditor who is a Chartered Accountant drawn from the panel prepared by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India.

"To ensure transparency, the audited report is put on the official website of the Trust along with the details of utilization of funds received by the Trust," the affidavit adds.

Also Read : PM CARES Fund Not A 'Public Authority' Under RTI Act, Says Prime Minister's Office




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