PM CARES Fund not under the ambit of RTI Act

As the world was facing a global pandemic in the form of Covid 19 Prime Minister Narendra Modi came up with PM CARES Fund to garner public contributions against the pandemic on 28th March 2020.

Nowadays, PM CARES is making headlines as the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has rejected a Right to Information (RTI) application seeking details of the PM CARES Fund, stating that the fund is “not a public authority” under the Act, reports The Hindu. The reply to the RTI with rejecting it also stated that, “relevant information in respect of PM CARES Fund may be seen on the Website pmcares.gov.in.”

When the PM CARES Fund was launched it was said by Mr. Kandukuri, who is a law student at the Azim Premji University in Bengaluru that, “When we already have the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF), having another fund did not make sense to me. I was curious about the composition and objectives of the Trust. I wanted to read the trust deed.”

It is here to be noted that, the RTI Act defines a “public authority” as “any authority or body or institution of self-government established or constituted — (a) by or under the Constitution; (b) by any other law made by Parliament; (c) by any other law made by State Legislature; (d) by notification issued or order made by the appropriate Government — and includes any (i) body owned, controlled or substantially financed; (ii) non Government Organisation substantially financed, directly or indirectly by funds provided by the appropriate Government.”

Earlier as well the PMO in response to another RTI regarding the fund said, citing a Supreme Court observation that “indiscriminate and impractical demands under RTI Act for disclosure of all and sundry information would be counterproductive.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is PM CARES Fund’s, ex-officio chairman, its ex-officio trustees are the Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.