The Delhi High Court on Friday prepared for a hearing to declare the PM CARES fund a “mandate” under the constitution and a “public authority” under the RTI Act to ensure transparency in its work. The panel of judges DN Patel and Judge Jyoti Singh allowed the petitioner’s petition to postpone the date of the hearing on this matter and to change the date from 30 November to 18 November.
Given the facts of the case, the injunction petition was adjourned on November 30. The same order has now been drawn up and the registry is now directed to include the order on November 18, she said. The court said it decided to slightly postpone the date at the insistence of senior lawyer Shyam Dewan, who is representing the petitioner Samyak Ganjwal.
The petitioner has submitted two petitioners for direction to declare the PM CARES Fund a “mandate” under the Constitution to ensure transparency in its work and also to declare it a “public authority” under the RTI Act. The pleas are heard together. The petitioner said the PM CARES Fund is a ‘state’ as it was formed by the Prime Minister on 27 March 2020 to provide assistance to the citizens of India in the wake of the public health emergency – the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
His attorney told the court that if it turns out that the PM CARES Fund is not a “state” under the constitution, the use of the “gov” domain name, prime minister’s image, state emblem, etc. should be discontinued. However, the affidavit given by a Under-Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) who performs his duties in the PM Cares Trust on an honorary basis, said that the PM CARES Fund is not a government fund because donations to it do not go to any party information may be separated A third regardless of its status under the Constitution and the RTI Act. She had said that the trust functions transparently and that its funds are audited by an auditor – a chartered accountant drawn from the commission set up by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India.
It has strongly emphasized that regardless of the status of the Prime Minister’s Citizens Assistance and Emergency Relief Fund (PM CARES Fund) under the Constitution and the RTI Act, third party information shall not be disclosed. Regardless of whether the trust is a state “or other authority within the meaning of Article 12 of the Constitution or whether it is a public authority” within the meaning of the provisions of the RTI Act, third-party information may not be disclosed, he added.
He said that all donations received by the fund are received via online payments, checks or demand transfers and the amount received is audited with the audited report and expenditures of the trust displayed on the website. The officer, who gave the affidavit, said that he was performing his duties in the PM CARES Trust on an honorary basis which is a charitable trust not created by or under the Constitution or under any Act of Parliament or any state legislature.
Dissenting the position that the PM CARES fund was not a government fund, the petitioner’s attorney argued that there was no factor to prove that the fund was private in nature. He had said that the constitution did not allow a civil servant to create an elusive structure.
The petition said that the trustees of the fund are the prime minister, the minister of defense, the minister of interior and the minister of finance, and immediately after the formation of the fund, the center represented through senior government officials that the fund had been established and operated by the government. India. To ensure transparency and accountability, the petition sought direction to periodically audit the PM CARES website and disclose details of the donations it receives. In his alternative prayers, Ganjwal sought to direct the Center to declare that the PM CARES Fund is not a fund of the Government of India and to prevent PM CARES from using “Prime Minister of India” or “Prime Minister”, including their acronyms. Its name, on its website, deed of trust and other formal or informal communications and announcements. On March 9, the court said it was not inclined to issue a notice on the petition because the center had already been represented by an attorney who could provide their written submissions. The petition challenges the June 2, 2020 order of the Central Information Officer (CPIO), PMO, refusing to submit the documents it requested on the grounds that the PM CARES Fund is not a public authority under the RTI Act.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the PMO, disputed the petition, saying it was not maintainable and would provide a response explaining why it was not entertained.