New Delhi [India], July 27 (ANI): The Supreme Court on Monday reserved its order on a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking directions to transfer the contributions made to the PM CARES Fund to the National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF).
A bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan reserved its order on the matter after hearing arguments of Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, and senior advocate Dushyant Dave for the petitioner.
The bench also allowed Mehta and Dave to file a three-page note on the petition filed by an NGO named Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL).
During the hearing, Dave argued that the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) audits the NDRF accounts but it is a private auditor for PM CARES.
"By making PM CARES Funds, legal provisions under the Disaster Management Act has been circumvented. What is not allowed to be done directly, cannot be done indirectly," Dave submitted.
Mehta contended that PM CARES Funds is a public charitable trust and gets voluntary donations.
Earlier, the Central government had defended PM CARES Fund in an affidavit filed by it in the Supreme Court saying the existence of statutory National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF) would not prohibit the creation of a different fund which provides for voluntary donations.
The Centre had submitted before the apex court that the prayer to transfer funds collected in PM CARES Fund to NDRF is not maintainable as the former was created under separate provisions.
"The government says that there are several funds which are either established earlier or now for carrying out various work relief works. PM Cares is one such fund with voluntary donations. It is submitted that there exists a fund stipulated under section 46 of the Disaster Management Act (DMA) which is called the NDRF. However, the mere existence of statutory funds would not prohibit in the creation of different funds like PM Cares Fund which provides for voluntary donations," the Centre's affidavit said.
The plea sought direction from the top court to direct the government to prepare, notify and implement a national plan under the DMA to deal with the COVID-19 and claimed that the Centre has been "refraining from divulging information" about the money contributed to the PM CARES Fund till date. (ANI)