In a reply to a question made in the ongoing monsoon session of Lok Sabha, minister of state for finance and corporate affairs Anurag Thakur informed that the Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund (PM CARES Fund) is not a public authority under section 2 (h) of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005.
Thakur said this in reply to an unstarred question asked by Suni Dattatray Tatkare. “Whether it is a fact that according to the Ministry the fund was set up on March 27, 2020 by the central government thus making it a public authority under the ambit of section 2 (h) of the RTI Act, 2005 and if so, the details thereof,” questioned Tatkare, who represents National Congress Party from Maharashtra.
In response to the question of the MP, Thakur replied: “No sir.”
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The NCP MP further questioned why the Companies Act was amended two months after quashing the ministry of corporate affairs (MCA’s) position on the PM-CARES Fund and MCA’s amendment of schedule VII to free PM-CARES of any authority.
In response to this question, MoS Thakur said that the ministry on March 28 had conveyed that the contribution made to PM CARES Fund would be eligible as CSR activity under the Companies Act, 2013 and subsequently, issued a gazette notification in this matter.
Earlier, the PMO in the first audited ‘receipts and payments account’, revealed that the PM CARES Fund was started with an initial corpus of Rs 2.25 lakh and received over Rs 3,076 crores within five days after contributions from India and abroad.
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A petition filed in the Delhi High Court seeking a declaration if the PM CARES comes under the RTI Act is pending, while a petition filed in the Supreme Court (SC) seeking to transfer the Fund from PM CARES to National Disaster Response Fund was turned down by the apex court. The top Court also observed that the PM CARES was a trust which would not require an audit by CAG.
The Prime Minister Narendra Modi, home minister Amit Shah, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman are ex-officio trustees of the Fund and three more trustees can be appointed by the PM who is the chairman of the PM CARES.
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