Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Office on Friday refused to provide details about the PM CARES Fund – created to tackle the coronavirus pandemic – to a Right to Information applicant, saying that the reserve was not a “public authority” under the RTI Act, Live Law reported.
A law student from Bengaluru had filed an RTI application in April, seeking details about the constitution of the Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund. The applicant had asked for copies of the fund’s trust deed and all government orders related to its creation and functioning.
“The PM CARES Fund is not a public authority under the ambit of section 2(h) of the RTI Act, 2005,” the PMO said in response to the RTI application. “However, relevant information in respect of the fund may be seen on the website pmcares.gov.in.” According to Live Law, no such information is available on the official website.
Under the RTI Act, a public authority is an organisation established (a) under or by the Constitution (b) by any other law made by the parliament or (c) by a notification or order issued by the government. The definition also covers organisations financed substantially by the government and non-governmental organisations.
The applicant told Live Law that they would file an appeal against the PMO’s refusal to provide the required information.
Last month, the government said that the fund will not be audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India since it was based on donations of individuals and organisations, NDTV had reported.
The PM CARES Fund was created on March 28 , with the prime minister as its chairperson and senior cabinet members serving as trustees. Opposition parties have questioned the need to create the reserve when Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund is already in existence. They had also expressed doubts about the fund’s transparency.