New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused transfer of money received in PM CARES Fund for fighting the Covid-19 pandemic into the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF).
A three-judge bench led by Justice Ashok Bhushan held that the Centre can formulate a separate fund despite the fact that the NDRF is already in place. The ruling came on a petition filed by the Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL). The Bench an held that PM Cares Fund is about voluntarily donations to fight the Covid-19 pandemic. On the other hand, NDRF is a statutorily created fund, which has nothing to do with the PM Cares Fund, the court noted. It added that people are free to make donations in either of the two, and that the government, in its discretion, can also transfer money from PM Cares to NDRF.
Senior advocate Dushyant Dave and advocate Prashant Bhushan, who argued the matter for the petitioner, contended that the PM CARES is not subject to an audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG). It is not under public scrutiny and contributions to it are 100% tax free.
The CPIL had also sought a direction to the Centre to prepare a “well-thought out national plan to deal with the pandemic.'' The bench in its verdict said a plan prepared by the government under the Disaster Management Act was sufficient for Covid also. The Centre had on March 28 set up the PM’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM CARES) Fund with the primary objective to deal with any kind of emer gency situation like the one currently posed by the Covid-19 outb reak and provide relief to the affected. PM is the ex-officio chairman of the fund.
Prasad attacks Rahul: Lashing out at out at Rahul Gandhi for raising questions about the PM CARES Fund, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Tuesday alleged that money from NDRF fund was given to Rajiv Gandhi Foundation during the Congress-led UPA regime. ''Rahul Gandhi questioned PM Cares Fund but the Supreme Court has shot down all his arguments. PM CARES is a registered public trust for Covid-like emergencies. Gandhi has never missed an opportunity to weaken resolve of the nation in its fight against the virus," the minister said, adding that NDA is an honest government.