The Indian Government, with an objective to tackle any threat or distress posted by Covid 19 Pandemic has found public trust under the name of Prime Minister’s citizen assistance and relief in emergency situation funds better referred to as PM cares funds. Additionally, to the PRIME MINISTER NATIONAL RELIEF FUND (PMNRF) and therefore national defense fund, this able to be the third funds to be organized by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). Question regarding to need of the funds were raised thanks to the existences of a similar funds. This text aspires to debate the funds, its need, scheme and concern. The PM CARES fund, although almost like its dizygotic twin the PMNRF, however comprises of objectives that disaffiliates it from the latter. Thus, so as to enabled focused relief, the aforementioned funds was created.
The PM care being a public trust, which receive donations from the private funds, justify the refusal to audit by the comptroller and Auditor General (CAG).
Further, as stated during a recent ordinance gone by the president, the PM care funds doesn’t fall into the purview of the CAG and can be audited by the independent auditor.
However, this issue is often tackled during two folds methods:
- As a Charitable fund, PM CARES is legislated upon by the Indian Trusts Act, 1882 (under Section 19) which mandates that an accurate account of trust property (in current scenario, cash) must be presented to the recipient when requested.
- The Civil Procedure Code (under Section 92) allows a special suit for the protection of Public rights within the Public Trusts and Charities and therefore the conditions for invoking an equivalent were elucidated in C.R. Sivananda & Another v. H.C Gurusidappa & Others, which may be applied to this scenario.
A recent analysis by India Spend estimated that at least Rs 9,677.90 crore has been collected in the PM CARES fund so far. Of this, Rs 4,308 crore has been donated by government agencies and staff. Yet, the only announcement to be made till date about the usage of the funds is the allocation of Rs 3,100 crore for COVID-19 work, made on May 13 — Rs 2,000 crore of which is mired in controversy. The reason: The central government is procuring 5,000 ventilators from a firm which has supplied ventilators to Ahmadabad largest COVID-19 hospital. These machines have proved inadequate, and have forced Ahmadabad Civil Hospital to put out an SOS for “actual ventilators”. The PM CARES fund has announced that it would be spending Rs 2,000 crore for the purchase of 50,000 “Made in India” ventilators. It is to be hoped that they do not prove to be substandard.
LAWS RELATED TO PM FUNDS:
- Article 266(2) states that each one other funds received on behalf of the govt of India aside from the Consolidated and Contingency fund shall be entitled to the general public account of India.
- Article 283(1) states that “The custody of the Consolidated Fund of India and therefore the Contingency Fund of India, the payment of moneys into such Funds, the withdrawal of moneys therefrom, the custody of public moneys aside from those credited to such Funds received by or on behalf of the govt of India, their payment into the general public account of India and therefore the withdrawal of moneys from such account and every one other matters connected with or ancillary to matters aforesaid shall be regulated by law made by Parliament, and, until provision therein behalf is so made, shall be regulated by rules made by the President.”This PM CARES suffers from lack of parliamentary oversight and thus there’s a requirement for a correct set of rules to make sure that Constitutional provisions aren’t violated.
- The Taxation and Other Laws (Relaxation of Certain Provision) Ordinance 2020 amends a provision of the tax Act to permit the subsequent benefits.
- Donations made to the fund shall be eligible for 100% tax write-off under section 80G of the tax Act further, the limit on the deduction of 10% shall not be applicable for the donation made to the fund.
- The Ordinance authorizes the government’s decision to increase the duration of the dispute settlement scheme for direct taxes (Vivaad se Viswas) till June 30 2020.
- The extension also applies for creating investments, deposits, purchases for the aim of claiming deduction/exemption in respect of capital gains under sections 54 to 54GB of the tax Act which also extends up to June 30 2020.
- The Refusal of the Prime Minister’s Office to disclose information regarding the PM Cares fund by stating that it doesn’t fall into the definition of public authority under the proper to Information (RTI) Act, 2005 was unexpected. The constitution of a public authority has been defined in two parts in Section 2(h) of the RTI Act which are as follows:
The first part states that a public authority includes:
- body established by the Constitution,
- body established by any law made by the Parliament,
- body established by law made by the State Legislature,
In conclusion, most schemes and trusts are bona fide in nature. However, like the two sides of a coin, every issue has positives as well as negatives that impede it. Yet, transparency is an integral aspect of a democracy and must be guaranteed. Due to the current situation, hasty decisions are affected to ensure the safety of citizens as that is paramount. However, the exercise of powers must be executed with checks and balances so as to promote amicable relations between the governing and the governed. Thus, although it has accumulated the funds as well as has supported many, the PM CARES is not an exhaustible scheme and has its own share of shortcomings that must be overcome to make the initiative an incontestable success among the citizens. This situation is alarming as the fund is receiving huge donations and has already become a target of fraud. People have lost their money because of fraudulent activities like creation of similar name funds, similar websites etc. Even one of BJP Maharashtra prominent leaders tweeted the fake id – pm cares fund.in instead of pmindia.gov.in. An honest mistake or a deliberate fraud. Anyway, the government has to take constructive steps to deal with the concerns rising up by first addressing the immediate problems of such fraudulent activities. According to a survey, there has been a sudden jump in Covid-19 Cybercrimes. Therefore, the government has to increase the awareness for the same and then address all the legal concerns associated because they are not any less important. Better frameworks for transparency need to be worked out and legality of the fund needs to be specified. This fund is receiving huge amounts of donations for the cause, so it is only good to hope for the time being that this Fund is not merely a publicity meatball in the name of Prime Minister, but it actually ‘cares’ for the country.
 Comptroller and Auditor General of India, Article 148 of Indian Constitution
 Section 19, The Indian Trust Act, 1882
 Section 92, The Code of Civil Procedure, 1908
 Regular First Appeal No. 667 of 2001 C/W Regular First Appeal No. 668 of 2001
 Article 283(1) https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1220316/
 Section 2(h) of RTI Act, https://rti.gov.in/rti-act.pdf