The PM CARES Trust on Tuesday told the Delhi High Court that the Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund was created and is existing as purely charitable and it is neither used for any government projects, nor it is governed by any of the government policies.
In a fresh affidavit filed in Delhi High Court by an Under Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) who is discharging his functions in the PM Cares Trust also, stated that the Trust functions on the principles of transparency and public good in larger public interest like any other charitable trust and, therefore, cannot have any objection in uploading all its resolutions on its website to ensure transparency.
“The Trust’s fund is not a fund of the Government of India and the amount does not go into the Consolidated Fund of India. The record available in the public domain makes it amply clear that PMCARES-Trust is neither constituted by the Parliament nor by the government,” the Trust said.
It further said that the fund is not a “public authority” as defined by the Right to Information Act, and therefore, the Trust does not come under its provisions.
“Contributions made to PMCARES Fund/Trust are exempted under the Income Tax Act,1961, but that by itself would not justify the conclusion that it is a “Public Authority,” stated the affidavit of PMCares Trust.
Under Secretary who filed this affidavit in Delhi High Court submitted, “I am discharging my functions in the PM Cares Trust on an honorary basis which is a charitable Trust not created by or under the Constitution of India or by any law made by the Parliament or by any State legislature. Despite being an officer of the Central Government, I am permitted to discharge my functions in PM Care Trust on an honorary basis.”
The bench of Justice Satish Chander Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad on Tuesday heard the submissions of the petitioner who sought direction to restrain PM CARES FUND from using Prime Minister of India or Prime Minister including its abbreviations in its name and on its website.
The Court was hearing petitions filed by Samyak Gangwal, who sought to declare the PM CARES Fund a ‘State’ under the Constitution. The petitioner has also sought direction to restrain PM CARES FUND from using Prime Minister of India or Prime Minister including its abbreviations in its name and on its website.
Senior Advocate Shyam Divan appearing for Petitioner earlier argued that PM Cares is using the government of India portal, the national emblem is also on the left side. If Trust’s fund is not a fund of the Government of India, then this would be a violation if it’s a private party. The trustees of it are also not ordinary functionaries. They have taken a high oath of office.
Earlier, an affidavit filed by PMCARES Trust affidavit stated that to ensure transparency, the audited report is put on the official website of the Trust along with the details of the utilization of funds received by the Trust.
“Suffice to mention that all donations received by the Trust are received via online payments, cheques, and or Demand Drafts, and the amount so received is audited with the audited report and the expenditure of Trust fund displayed on the website. In view of the specific provisions of section 8 of the Right to Information Act, the relief against para 5.3 of the Trust Deed dated 27.3.2020 pales into insignificance,” the affidavit reads.
PMCARES Trust while opposed to the present petitions stated that such a prayer is not only unheard of but is legally not maintainable. In his other petition, Gangwal challenged the decision of the Central Public Information Officer, Prime Minister’s Office wherein the RTI application seeking documents related to the PM Cares Fund Fund was denied. Gangwal has filed its petition through advocates Debopriyo Moulik and Ayush Shrivastava.