A day after the Supreme Court refused to direct the Centre to transfer the contributions made to the PM CARES Fund to the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF), former Union minister P. Chidambaram has tweeted a series of questions regarding the fund formed to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. “There are other aspects of PM-CARES FUND on which the Supreme Court had no occasion to pronounce judgement. These are transparency, disclosure and management practices concerning the (PM CARES) fund,” he tweeted.
Chidambaram also raked up the issue of Chinese donors to PM CARES. “Who are the donors who gave Rs 3,076 crore in the first five days in March 2020? Do they include Chinese firms? What is the amount received since April 1, 2020 and who are the donors?” he asked.
The former finance minister also questioned the Central government on the procedure to allocate money from the fund to various COVID-19 mitigating activities. “Who are the recipients of money from the fund since its inception? Are utilisation certificates (UC) demanded and received from the recipients? If the fund is beyond the ambit of RTI, who will answer these vital questions?” Chidambaram charged.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court ruled that “PM CARES Fund money cannot be directed to be deposited or transferred to the National Disaster Response Fund” and there was “no need for fresh national disaster relief plan.” The Supreme Court noted voluntary contributions could always be made to the NDRF.
The Centre on March 28 had set up the Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM CARES) Fund with the primary objective to deal with any kind of emergency situation like the one currently posed by the COVID-19 outbreak and provide relief to those affected.
The prime minister is the ex-officio chairman of the fund and the defence, home and finance ministers are its ex-officio trustees. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, had told a bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan that the PM CARES Fund is a “voluntary fund” while funds to the NDRF and SDRF are made available through budgetary allocations.
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