The Delhi High Court has been told by the Central Government that the PM Cares Fund has not been created under the Constitution or a law of Parliament but is an independent public charitable trust since inception.
The Centre, in a detailed affidavit submitted before the High Court, said that the Central and State governments, have no direct or indirect control over the functioning of the fund.
In its affidavit, the Government said that there is no control of either the Central Government or any State Government/s, either direct or indirect, in functioning of the Trust in any manner whatsoever.
The affidavit also clarified that the PM CARES Fund comprises donations that are voluntary and do not receive any government support.
It also does not accept contributions flowing out of budgetary sources of government or from the balance sheets of the public sector undertakings.
The affidavit also clarified that the PM CARES cannot be categorized under public authority in the Right to Information Act and, therefore, provisions of RTI Act cannot be made applicable on the trust.
The affidavit has been filed when a plea asked for declaration PM CARES Fund as State.
The High Court was told by the Central Government after it had expressed its displeasure over its earlier response which was barely one-page long.
Senior Advocate Shyam Divan, who represented the petitioner, said that high functionaries of the government like the Vice-President had requested the Rajya Sabha members to make donations. It was added that high functionaries are very responsible people and the PM Cares Fund has been projected as a government fund.
The response by the government said that the Central and State governments have no control over the PM Cares Fund.
It was also clarified by the centre that the public office holders were on the board of trustees for administrative purposes only and does not indicate government control or influence.
It was also submitted that the composition of the Board of Trustees consisting of holders of Public Office ex Officio is merely for administrative convenience and for smooth succession to the trusteeship.
The Central Government stated that the PM CARES Fund is a public charitable trust, functions transparently and its funds are audited by a chartered accountant whose reports were available to the public on the website pmcares.gov.in.
As per the affidavit the PM CARES Fund is administered on the pattern of Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF) as both are chaired by the Prime Minister.
The most important point that the affidavit said was that the petition was assumption based and fails to show that the petitioner was personally affected, and thus should be dismissed.