In a matter pertaining to PM-CARES Fund CENTRE FOR PUBLIC INTEREST LITIGATION v. UOI [WP(C) No. 546 OF 2020], the petitioners had sought a relief as to virtual dissolution of PM-CARES Fund and transfer thereof to NDRF :
c. Issue a writ, order or direction to the Union of India to utilize NDRF for the purpose of providing assistance in the fight against GOVID-19 pandemic in compliance with Section 46 of the DM Act, all the contributions/grants from individuals and institutions shall be credited to the NDRF in terms of Section 46(1)(b) rather than to PM CARES Fund and all the fund collected in the PM CARES Fund till date may be directed to be transferred to the NDRF;
The Supreme Court 3-judge bench, in judgment dated 18-August-2020, has ruled as follows :
Answer 3. The Union of India can very well utilize the NDRF for providing assistance in the fight of COVID-19 pandemic by way of releasing fund on the request of the States as per new guidelines.
Answer 4. Any contribution, grant of any individual or institution is not prohibited to be credited into the NDRF and it is still open for any person or institution to make contribution to the NDRF in terms of Section 46(1)(b) of the Act, 2005. The contribution by any person or by any institution in PM CARES Fund is voluntary and it is open for any person or institution to make contribution to the PM CARES Fund.
Answer 5. The funds collected in the PM CARES Fund are entirely different funds which are funds of a public charitable trust and there is no occasion for issuing any direction to transfer the said funds to the NDRF.
Thus, the judgment upholds validity of creation of the Fund in the following key paras :
- The PM CARES Fund is a public charitable trust and is not a Government fund…..
- The mere fact that administration of the Trust is vested in trustees, i.e., a group of people, will not itself take away the public character of the Trust…..
- The contributions made by individuals and institutions in the PM CARES Fund are to be released for public purpose to fulfill the objective of the trust…. The trust does not receive any Budgetary support or any Government money. It is not open for the petitioner to question the wisdom of trustees to create PM CARES fund which was constituted with an objective to extend assistance in the wake of public health emergency that is pandemic COVID-19.
- Shri Dave during submissions has fairly submitted that he is not questioning the bona fide of constitution of PM CARES Fund. His submission is that NDRF is audited by CAG but PM CARES Fund is not audited by CAG rather by a private Chartered Accountant. The nature of NDRF and PM CARES Fund are entirely different. The guidelines issued under Act, 2005 with regard to NDRF specifically provides for audit of the NDRF by the Comptroller & Auditor General of India whereas for public charitable trust there is no occasion for audit by the Comptroller & Auditor General of India.
PM CARES v. PM National Relief Fund – A comparison
|Point||PM-CARES||PM National Relief Fund|
|1. Set up by||Modi as PM||Nehru as PM|
|2. Registration||Registered Trust||Unregistered (Unknown whether Trust or not ?)|
|3. Objectives||Any Emergency/Distress||Schemes of PM, Flood, Drought, Terrorism, etc.|
|4. Audit||SARC & Associates||SARC & Associates|
|5. Audited Accounts||Uploaded on Website||Not uploaded|
|6. Meetings||Regular Meeting||No meeting since 1985|
|7. RTI||Not applicable, as not public authority||Not applicable, as not public authority|
|8. Administration||Joint Secretary, PMO||Joint Secretary, PMO|
|9. Management||PM & Other Ministers, etc., Ex-Officio||President of Congress + PM & Other Ministers, etc., Ex-Officio|
|10. 80G Tax Benefit||Available||Available|
|11. CSR Benefit||Available to Companies||Available to Companies|