New Delhi (Sputnik): Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had set up a fund to deal with “any kind of emergency or distress situation,” like the COVID-19 pandemic. The charitable trust has been under the scanner from the beginning, as it was not subject to public audit, but donations to it are eligible for tax rebate.
India’s apex court on Tuesday dismissed a petition seeking the transfer of funds from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s controversial PM CARES Fund, an acronym for Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund, to the official National Disaster Relief Fund.
The petitioners, who filed a Public Interest Litigation with the Supreme Court of India, argued that the PM CARES Fund was a “fraud upon the Constitution”.
They said the fund was outside the scope of the federal Disaster Management Act, and raised the issue of transparency as it is outside the purview of any government audit.
Though there was no formal statement, reports indicate the Fund has so far received contributions to the tune of $1.27 billion since it was set up on 28 March.
Prime Minister Modi’s office, which maintains the fund, however has refused to part with any information on it in response to several applications under the federal Right to Information Act. It had said the PM CARES Fund was not a “public authority” under the Act, a prerequisite to demand information under the law.
India’s main opposition party, Congress, had questioned the establishment of a separate COVID-19 fund when the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF) already exists to provide disaster relief.
Former chief of India’s Congress party, Rahul Gandhi, had sought a government audit of PM CARES, because it received huge contributions from state-funded units and even Indian Railways.
Responding to the top court’s verdict, BJP national president Jagat Prakash Nadda said, it was a “resounding blow to the nefarious designs of Rahul Gandhi and his band of ‘rent a cause’ activists”.