The Supreme Court Tuesday said the money deposited in the Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM Cares) Fund need not be transferred to the National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF). Dismissing a petition filed by NGO, Centre for Public Interest Litigation, the apex court said no order could be issued for transferring money from the PM Cares Fund.
The NGO had moved the Court seeking direction to the government to transfer funds in light of the coronavirus pandemic. It claimed the Centre was “refraining from divulging information” about the money “contributed to the PM CARES Fund till date”.
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The SC Tuesday, however, said the 2019 Disaster Management plan was sufficient for managing the Covid-19 situation, and no fresh plan was needed. It said voluntary contributions could always be made to the NDRF.
The PM Cares Fund was set up in March to receive contributions for Covid-19 relief operations.
Supteme Court refuses prayer to transfer PM Cares Fund to National Disaster Response Fund.
Holds that the 2019 Disaster Management plan is sufficient for managing Covid situation & no fresh plan needed.
— Ananthakrishnan G (@axidentaljourno)
During the hearing, the Centre had argued against transferring the funds, saying it “is neither maintainable on merits nor is otherwise maintainable under Article 32 as all funds other than the funds stipulated under Section 46 of DM Act, 2005 are separate, different and distinct, created separately under separate provisions”.
It had also said, “There does exist a National Disaster Response Fund as stipulated under Section 46 of Disaster Management (DM) Act, 2005 which so far consisted of the fund in the form of budgetary provisions made by the Central government in NDRF and state governments and Central government in State Disaster Response Funds without any private contribution.”
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“It is submitted that there are several funds which are either established earlier or now for carrying out various relief works. PM CARES is one such fund with voluntary donations,” the affidavit noted, and said “mere existence of a statutory fund would not prohibit creation of a different fund like PM CARES Fund which provides for voluntary donations”.