The Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM CARES) Fund has been established as a public charitable trust and is not created under the Constitution or parliamentary law, the Centre has told the Delhi High Court, Bar and Bench reported on Tuesday.

The PM CARES Fund was established in March 2020 as a “dedicated national fund” to deal with “any kind of emergency or distress situation” in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Centre filed an affidavit in response to a plea seeking to declare the PM CARES Fund as a “State” under Article 12 of the Constitution to ensure transparency in its functioning.

“There is no control of either the Central Government or any State Government/s, either direct or indirect, in functioning of the Trust in any manner whatsoever,” the affidavit stated.

The government also reiterated that the fund is not a “public authority” under the Right to Information Act, therefore exempting it from scrutiny.

It said that the fund only accepts voluntary donations from individuals and institutions. But senior advocate Shyam Divan, appearing for the petitioner, functionaries of the government such as the vice president had requested the Rajya Sabha members to make donations.

“There are scores of constitutional functionaries…you are allowed a large amount of flexibility but there are constitutional fetters,” he argued. “If you are not [State] then you can’t have government symbols or a government website so that the public thinks that you are ‘state’. Either you are ‘state’ or you are not.”

The petition

The petitioner has also argued that senior government functionaries were representing the fund set up and operated by the government.

It contended the fund uses government resources such as a “” domain name for its website, the national emblem and the words “Prime Minister” and its abbreviation in official and unofficial communications.

The plea contended that the office of the PM CARES Fund office was the prime minister’s office.

The petition said that as a result of presenting the fund in such a manner, it received huge donations. The PM CARES Fund website showed that Rs 3,076.62 crore was collected merely within four days of its creation, the plea noted.

The petitioner stated he was not accusing the government of any wrongdoing but was seeking to place checks and balances as the trustees of the funds are senior government functionaries.