The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a petition that questioned the legality of the creation of the “PM-CARES fund” formed to fight the spreading coronavirus pandemic in the country, Live Law reported.
PM-CARES – an acronym for Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations – is a fund set up by the Centre with the stated objective of being a “dedicated national fund” to deal with “any kind of emergency or distress situation”. The fund was announced by Modi last month in the wake of the ongoing crisis due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The petition, filed by advocate ML Sharma, alleged that the creation of the PM CARES Fund was illegal, as it was not created by a statutory enactment. “[The] Impugned trust has not either been created by Parliament or a state legislator within Article 267 [of the Constitution],” it said. “It is neither passed by Parliament nor approved by the President of India. There is no ordinance/gazette notification in this regard.”
It sought the transfer of all donations received under the fund to be the Consolidated Fund of India and further demanded a court-monitored probe by a Special Investigation Team into the origin of the trust.
A bench comprising Chief Justice of India SA Bobde and justices L Nageswara Rao and MM Shantanagoudar, however, declined to hear the petition. “This is a completely misconceived petition” Bobde said. “We will impose cost on you”, the bench added.
Last month, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor had questioned the creation of the fund, and said Prime Minister Narendra Modi owed an explanation for it. Tharoor was reacting to a Twitter post that noted that a huge amount of money was lying unused in the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund.
A Twitter user posted a chart highlighting the difference between the income and expenditure of the already-existing PM National Relief Fund, whose donations have risen strikingly since Modi took office in 2014. “Look at the difference between the income and expenditure of Prime Minister’s Relief Fund from 2014-2019,” the Twitter user wrote. “Looks like there are some [Rs] 2200 crores lying idle in this account.”