The Union government on Tuesday urged the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court to dismiss the petition that sought declaration of funds received by the Prime Minister's Citizens Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situation (PM CARES), a public charitable trust created by the government amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The Union also said it is upon the discretion of the chairman of the PM CARES on whether to make new appointments to the trust or not.
A bench of Justices Sunil Shukre and Anil Kilor has accordingly ordered the Union to spell out its stand on the issue by filing an affidavit.
The bench was dealing with a petition filed by an advocate seeking declaration of the funds received and spent by the Union government under the PM CARES. He also highlighted the fact that the government has not made any appointments in the trust.
The plea urged the bench to issue directions to the government to appoint two opposition leaders to the trust.
Opposing the plea, ASG Singh (through video conferencing), submitted, "The PM is the chairman of this trust and whether to appoint someone or not, it is left to the chairman's discretion."
"The petitioner cannot rewrite the terms of the PM CARES trust," Singh argued.
Notably, PM Narendra Modi is the chairman of PM CARES trust and the ministers of defence, home and finance are its members. This trust was created with the objective of dealing with the emergency or distress caused by the coronavirus. It was for seeking financial assistance from people in the country and also from overseas and to provide relief and assistance to those affected by Covid-19 pandemic.
At this, ASG Singh pointed out that there is no compulsion on anyone to donate money and in fact, the donations are made voluntarily.
However, the bench has asked the Union government to spell its stand on an affidavit.