Supreme Court: No need to transfer funds from PM Cares to NDRF

The Supreme Court has ruled that there is no need to transfer funds collected under PM Cares fund for Corona Pandemic relief to the National Disaster Relief Fund NDRF. Dismissing a petition filed for the same by the NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation, the Supreme Court said that the funds collected by PM Cares are those of a charitable trust.

Supreme Court said that collecting funds under PM Cares does not violate the Disaster Management Act (DM Act) of 2005. Both funds can exist separately and individuals and organisations are free to contribute to them.

The government had set up the PM Cares Fund on March 28 to deal with emergency situations like the one currently posed by the pandemic and provide relief to those affected. The Prime Minister is the ex-officio chairman of the fund and the Defence, Home and Finance Ministers are ex-officio trustees.

The opposition Congress party has questioned the need for such a fund when the NDRF is a statutory fund created under Section 46 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 for the same purpose. Congress spokesperson Ranjit Singh Sujrewala has called the SC Judgment a body blow to transparency & accountability of the government to people. He said it marks a sad letter day for responsibility & answerability of rulers to the electorate and remind them that they are not ‘Monarchs’ but ‘servants of the people’.

In its defense, the government submitted in court that “Mere existence of a statutory fund (NDRF) would not prohibit the creation of a different fund like PM Cares Fund which provides for voluntary donations.”

IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has said, “Transparency is writ large in PM-CARES Fund both in terms of legal requirement and transparent management of funds received on a voluntary basis. Our government has not faced even a single accusation of corruption,”

A three-judge bench headed by justice Ashok Bhushan turned down a prayer seeking formulation of a national plan for Covid management stating that the existing plan under the Disaster Management Act is sufficient to deal with the pandemic.

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