Plea to declare PM CARES fund a ‘State’ under Constitution

Will ensure transparency in its functioning, says petition in Delhi HC

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday asked the Centre to respond to a plea seeking to declare the Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund (PM CARES Fund) a ‘State’ under the Constitution.

A bench of Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh posted the hearing on the petition filed by Samyak Gangwal, a lawyer, on September 13.

Mr. Gangwal, represented by senior advocate Shyam Divan, has sought to declare PM CARES Fund a ‘State’ under Article 12 of the Constitution to ensure transparency in its functioning.

Mr Divan said the court came to the conclusion that the PM CARES Fund is not ‘State’ under the Constitution, usage of the domain name ‘gov’, the Prime Minister’s photograph, State emblem among others has to stop.

The petition stated that the PM CARES Fund was formed by the Prime Minister on March 27, 2020 to extend assistance to the citizens of India in the wake of the public health emergency — the COVID-19 Pandemic.

“The petitioner is not attributing or even alleging any wrongdoing whatsoever on the part of the present Ex-Officio Trustees of the PM CARES Fund. However, since the PM CARES Fund’s Trustees are high government functionaries, it is essential that checks and balances envisioned in Part III of the Constitution are put in the place on the functioning of the fund to extinguish any chance of an allegation of ‘quid pro quo’,” the plea said.

Mr Gangwal has also filed another petition to declare PM CARES as a ‘public authority’ under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. Both petitions are being heard together. He has challenged a June 2, 2020 order of the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO), PMO, refusing to provide documents sought by him under the RTI Act.

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