The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a PIL seeking quashing of the Centre’s decision to set up the PM-CARES Fund to deal with the situation arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic, where citizens can donate money, on Monday (April 13).
On March 28, the Centre 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 coronavirus outbreak and provide relief to those affected.
Against the backdrop of increasing fund requirements in various quarters to deal with the pandemic, the corporate affairs ministry has already said that contribution to the PM-CARES Fund would be considered as CSR under the Companies Act, 2013.
However, since the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) framework came into force in April 1, 2014, funds set by state governments, including the Chief Ministers Relief Fund, were not included in Schedule VII of the Act, official sources said on Sunday.
The prime minister is the ex-officio chairman of the fund and the defence, home and finance ministers are its ex-officio trustees.
A bench comprising Chief Justice SA Bobde and justices L Nageswara Rao and MM Shantanagoudar would hear the PIL filed by lawyer ML Sharma against the setting up of the PM-CARES Fund through video-conferencing.
“That cause of action arose to the petitioner on March 28, upon having press release for the formation of impugned PM CARES Fund and appeal by the Prime Minister of India to donate funds in that trust to fight COVID-19 and aid healthcare in future without any ordinance and gazette notification by the Government of India,” the public interest litigation (PIL) petition said.
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The PIL, which has made all the trustees of the fund as well as the prime minister parties to it, has sought a transfer of the donations received so far in the fund to the Consolidated Fund of India, besides a court-monitored SIT probe into the setting up of the fund.
It said the trust had to be created in accordance with Articles 267 and 266(2), which deal with the contingency and Consolidated Funds of India, of the Constitution.
“Impugned trust has not either been created by Parliament/state legislator within Art 267. It is neither passed by Parliament nor approved by the President of India. There is no ordinance/gazette notification in this regard,” the PIL said.
(With inputs from agencies.)