A Supreme Court Bench led by Justice NV Ramana on Monday observed that the plea questioning the setting up of the PM Cares Fund and various Chief Minister Relief Funds to deal with the COVID-19 crisis, had a “political colour to it” and has asked the petitioner to withdraw the same.
While addressing the issue the Court asked the lead petitioner, Advocate Shaswat Anand, to either withdraw the petition or face a fine.
The PIL moved by Advocates Shaswat Anand, Ankur Azad and Faiz Ahmed,and law student Sagar, addressed the concern that the current approach of testing was inadequate and insufficient as only testing suspected cases of COVID-19 would not help in containing the spread of the deadly Coronavirus. They said,
“Due to exponential community spread of the most contagious and deadly coronavirus (COVID-19) cannot be put in check only by test of suspected COVID-19 infected persons, unless mass COVID-19 tests are carried out of public generally to trace people infected by COVID-19, to isolate and treat them.”
Therefore the petition had sought directions to the Government of India to ensure “mass house-to-house tests at the COVID-19 hotspots most severely affected so as to avoid the spread of COVID-19 from the limits of such places into the public at large.“
The plea also questions the need to create a dedicated PM Cares Fund and several State CM Relief Funds, when the National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF) and the State Disaster Relief Fund (SDRF) formed in 2005 after the National Disaster Management Act already existed.
The petitioner while questioning the PM Cares Fund had stated,
“The creation of separate public charitable trusts by the Central/State Government(s) only tends to maim, weaken and paralyze the 2005 Act and the trusts/funds thereunder, being the NDRF and the SDRF. The creation of non-statutory public charitable trust/fund by Prime Minister and Chief Minsters, being PM-Cares Funds and various CM-Relief Funds and promoting the same, who are also concerned with promoting the statutory funds/trusts being the NDRF/SDRF, is arbitrary, inappropriate, uncalled for, unjustified and impermissible under the public policy and within the scheme of the 2005 Act and in the interests of the public at large, keeping in view the clash of interests among such funds/trusts.”