NEW DELHI, July 27 - The Centre on Monday strongly defended the PM CARES Fund in the Supreme Court saying it�s a public trust meant to receive �voluntary contributions� to fight COVID-19 pandemic and the budgetary allocations for NDRF and SDRF are not �being touched�.
The statement was made by the Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, before a bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan which reserved its order on one of the prayers of the PIL, filed by NGO �Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL)�, seeking a direction that all the money collected under the PM CARES Fund for the COVID-19 pandemic should be transferred to National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF).
The Centre on March 28 had set up the Prime Minister�s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM CARES) Fund with the primary objective to deal with any kind of emergency situation like the one currently posed by the COVID-19 outbreak and provide relief to those affected. The Prime Minister is the ex-officio chairman of the fund and the defence, home and finance ministers are its ex-officio trustees.
During the hearing, the Solicitor General told the bench, also comprising Justices SK Kaul and MR Shah, that the PM CARES Fund is a �voluntary fund� while funds to the NDRF and SDRF (State Disaster Response Fund) are made available through budgetary allocations.
�It is a public trust. It is a body where you can make voluntary contributions and no budgetary allocations to the NDRF or SDRF are being touched. What has to be spent will be spent,� the law officer said, adding that no law has been violated.
Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for the petitioner NGO, said they are not doubting the bona fide of anyone but the creation of the PM CARES Fund is allegedly in contravention of provisions of the Disaster Management Act. � PTI