Know why PM CARES Fund does not come under the purview of RTI?
"Sathi hath badhana, Ek akela thak jyega, Milkar bojh uthana"!
This line of Hindi film songs fits perfectly with the PM Cares Fund, created to deal with COVID 19 like pandemics in India. The entire country supported the government and donated huge amounts to fighting this pandemic.
What is PM Cares Fund?
The "Prime Minister's Civil Assistance and Emergency Relief Fund" (PM Cares Fund) was established on 27 March 2020 with the primary objective of dealing with any kind of emergency like the COVID-19 pandemic in India.
The PM Cares Fund is a public charitable trust. Any person can donate in this fund and get 100% tax exemption as per Income Tax rules. Keep in mind that there is already a Prime Minister's Relief Fund in the country, which was established in 1948.
Composition of the PM Cares Fund:-
1. Prime Minister is the Ex-Officio Chairman of the PM Cares Fund.
2. Defense Minister, Home Minister and Finance Minister are Ex-officio Trustees of the Fund.
3. The Prime Minister will have the power to nominate three people as Trustees of the Board of Trustees, who will be eminent persons in the fields of research, health, science, social work, law, public administration, and philanthropy.
Objectives of PM Care Fund:-
1. The main objective of this fund is that in the occurrence of any kind of natural or human calamity in the country, people will be given the task of developing infrastructure along with financial and technical assistance.
If required; necessary, Research & Development work and development of required infrastructure will also be done to facilitate the construction of healthcare or medicine facilities in the country.
2. If the trustees of the board deem necessary, financial assistance to the affected population can also be provided.
PM Cares fund and Right to Information:-
As soon as the government set up this PM Cares fund and appeal to the people to donate in this fund, crores of rupees deposited in this fund within a few days.
But now the donors want to know that how many crores rupees have been deposited in this fund? But the government is refusing to reveal the amount.
According to the India Spend.com website, about Rs. 9,677.9 crore was deposited in the PM CARES fund within 52 days of its establishment. On 13 May 2020, the Prime Minister's Office announced that Rs 3,100 crore was allocated from PM CARES for COVID-19 works, which is the first expenditure to be incurred from the fund. This is only 32% of the Rs 9,677.9 crore collected till May 20, 2020.
On 21 April 2020, Greater Noida resident and environmental activist Vikrant Togad sought to know information from the Prime Minister's Office in 12 points under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. Vikrant asked that how many crores rupees were deposited in this fund till date?
The central government is maintaining so much secrecy about the PM Cares fund that is the reason that it has refused to share information under the Right to Information Act.
The PMO replied to Vikrant Togad within 6 days that he has asked many questions related to many subjects in the same RTI application, and he should pay for each subject separately. Hence, information can’t be revealed in this condition.
Apart from this, the PMO also argued that the PM Cares Fund is not a public authority under the RTI Act, 2005, so it is not a compulsion to give information about it.
Thus, it is clear from the above description that the government does not want to tell the country how much money it has received under the PM Cares fund? This is in sharp contrast to the government's earlier ideology that we are committed to giving a corruption-free government in the country.