The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) on Friday, refused to disclose any details about the PM Cares Fund on the ground that the fund does not fall under the term “public authority” under the scope of RTI, 2005.
The Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM CARES) Fund was established to receive donations and provide relief during the COVID-19 pandemic or for any other emergencies.
The Fund has been under scrutiny by the public ever since the launch on March 28th. On April 1st, An RTI was filed by Shri Harsha Kandukuri inquiring the PMO to furnish all the government orders, notifications, the Fund’s trust deed, and circulars on its creation.
After 30 days of no response, he appealed, and thereafter he received a reply stating that “PM CARES Fund is not a Public Authority under the ambit of Section 2(h) of the RTI Act, 2005.”
Later, a similar RTI was rejected, which was filed by activist Vikrant Togad. The reply cited a Supreme Court observation that “indiscriminate and impractical demands under RTI Act for disclosure of all and sundry information would be counterproductive”.
Under the RTI Act, a public authority is defined as an organisation established (a) by or under the Constitution (b) by any other law made by the state legislature(c) by a notification or order issued by the appropriate government. The definition also includes organisations financed substantially directly or indirectly, by the government, including non-governmental organisations.
Reports suggest that PM CARES has already received donations above Rs. 10,000 crores and received foreign contributions as well.
By: Karman Kaur