The constitutional validity of the PM National Relief Fund and the PM CARES Fund has been challenged in a PIL filed before the Allahabad High Court.
Divya Pal Singh and Anubhav Singh, Advocates of the High Court filed the petition stating the unconstitutionality of the PMNRF and PM-CARES and that they are at odds with the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF), created by the Central Government under Section 46 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 (DMA).The same are not even backed by any law.
Arrangement to transfer the PMNRF and PM CARES fund to NDRF has been sought.
As per Entry 10 of the Concurrent List under the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution, the Government does not have the power to create a Trust, otherwise than by an authority of law, submitted the petitioner.
“Manifestly, the Constitutional Mandate for creating a trust by making a law is an implicit, mandatory and binding prohibition on the power of the Central Government or Prime Minister to create a non-statutory express trust (PMCARES Fund), opaque in nature, to collect money from institutions and public generally during outbreak of disaster (the COVID-19), while, there is a statutory fund, already in place (NDRF) for the same purpose constituted by the Central Govt. under 2005 Act,” stated the plea.
Contentions were also made that in terms of Section 72 of the DMA, NDRF would prevail over the PM CARES Fund. The Act has an overriding effect and shall prevail over every instrument or law for the time being in force. The NDRF is subjected to the Right to Information Act and audited by the CAG. Hence, becomes more transparent when linked to the PM CARES Fund.
“The NDRF is audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG); its abuse, misappropriation and misuse is an offence and punishable under the 2005 Act. What is more, the same is transparent, subject to annual report (giving accounts of its activities) to be tabled in the Parliament, and the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005 and thus fully under the public scanner, while the trust affairs, supra, do not qualify such rigour or statutory obligations. They are opaque, undemocratic, beyond the purview of RTI Act, non-auditable by the CAG and wholly beyond the public reach and scanner.”
The prayer contented that the accounts of the PMCARES Fund be directly audited by the CAG and, full accounts, activities and expenditure details, along with the Trust-Deed of the PMCARES Fund be made public, desirably by publishing the said details (to be updated regularly) on the Government website for people’s information.
Advocates ShashwatAnand, DeveshSaxena and Ankur Azad also helped in filing the petition.
Read Petition here: