The Bombay High Court on Tuesday told the Union government to respond to a petition seeking directions to the PM-CARES Fund to remove the reference to the prime minister and the image of Narendra Modi, Bar and Bench reported.
The petitioner, a Congress member named Vikrant Chavan, also objected to the PM-CARES Fund using the national emblem in its logo. He has contended that the use of the emblem violates the Constitution, as well as The Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act.
A division bench of Justices AA Sayed and SG Dige directed Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, representing the Centre, to respond to the petition. The court posted the case for further hearing on October 25, PTI reported.
The Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund, or the PM-CARES FUND, was established in March last year with the stated objective of being a “dedicated national fund” to deal with “any kind of emergency or distress situation” in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.
In an affidavit submitted to the Delhi High Court on September 14, the Centre had stated that the PM-CARES fund can neither be listed as “the State” nor a “public authority” under the Right to Information Act.
Chavan, in his petition, noted the Centre’s statement that the money collected through the PM-CARES Fund does not go to the Consolidated Fund of India. He said that the trust that is in charge of the fund does not carry out any governmental or sovereign functions.
Chavan argued that given this position, it would not be proper for the fund to use the prime minister’s name, his photograph, the national flag or the national emblem on its website.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the chairperson of the PM-CARES Fund trust, while senior ministers are its trustees.
The government has said it did not intend to own or finance the fund.
“PM CARES Fund comprises voluntary donations made by individuals and institutions and is not a part of business or function of the central government in any manner,” the government submitted in the affidavit before the Delhi High Court.
In December, the Centre had said in an RTI reply that the fund was “owned and established” by the government. The government, however, said that it does not come under the RTI Act because it receives funds from private sources.