NEW DELHI: The PM Cares Fund is not a government of India fund and the amount collected by it does not go to the Consolidated Fund of India, the Centre has informed the Delhi high court. An affidavit filed by an undersecretary at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) who is discharging his functions in the PM Cares Trust on an honorary basis says the trust functions with transparency and its funds are audited by a chartered accountant drawn from the panel prepared by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India.
The affidavit was filed in response to a petition seeking a direction to declare the PM Cares Fund a “State” under the Constitution to ensure transparency in its functioning. “To ensure transparency, the audited report is put on the official website of the trust along with the details of utilisation of funds received by the trust,” says the affidavit filed by Pradeep Kumar Srivastava, undersecretary at the PMO.
Irrespective of whether the trust is a State or other authority within the meaning of Article 12 of the Constitution, or whether it is a “public authority” within the meaning of provisions of the Right to Information Act (RTI), it is not permissible to disclose third-party information, the affidavit states.
It added that all donations received by the trust are received via online payments, cheques or demand drafts, and the amount received is audited. The audited report and the expenditure of the trust fund is displayed on the website, it said. “The trust functions on the principles of transparency and public good in larger public interest, like any other charitable trust and, therefore, cannot have any objection in uploading all its resolutions on its website to ensure transparency,” it said.
The court was hearing a PIL that claimed the PM Cares Fund is a “State” as it was formed by the PM to extend assistance in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. To ensure transparency and accountability, the plea had sought a direction for periodic auditing of the PM Cares website and the disclosure of details of donations received by it.