22nd October 2020

Confidant Classes

A Premier Judicial Service Coaching

PMNRF vs. PM Cares: An analysis by Adv. Rajesh Ranjan

PMNRF 

It is a public charitable trust, was governed by a managing committee that also consisted of a representative from India’s private business sector. 

  • PM
  • Deputy PM
  • President of the Indian National Congress Party
  • Finance Minister
  • A representative of Tata Trustees
  • A representative of Industry and Commerce chosen by FICCI

But since 1985 the management of the fund was entrusted entirely with the Prime Minister. It gets voluntary contributions from the people. PMNRF has also received foreign contributions as a public trust since 2011.The fund consists entirely of voluntary contributions from individuals and organizations and does not get any budgetary support. PMNRF has not been allowed to be audited by Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India. 

PM CARES

This fund is also a Public charitable trust. PM CARES delegates that power of deliberation and decision making to three other ministers of the government- Home Minister, Defence Minister  and Finance Minister. The Prime Minister is the ex-officio chairman of the PM CARES fund and Minister of Defence, Minister of Home Affairs and Minister of Finance, Government of India are ex-officio Trustees of the Fund.

The chairperson of the board of trustees shall have the power to nominate three trustees to the board who shall be eminent persons in the field of research, health, science, social work, law, public administration and philanthropy. Any person appointed a trustee shall act in a pro-bono capacity.

In PM CARES micro donations are also accepted. Corporate will be considered as fulfilling their CSR obligations by merely contributing to this. The fund consists entirely of voluntary contributions from individuals and organizations and does not get any budgetary support. PM CARES fund has also got exemption under the FCRA and a separate account for receiving foreign donations has been opened and it will be made operational soon. This will enable PM CARES Fund to accept donations and contributions from individuals and organizations based abroad.  There is  provision for a 10 member advisory board and non-inclusion of the Congress party president in the PM CARES fund. 

CRITICISM

PM-CARES and PMNRF are similar in one crucial regard: both funds do not disclose the identities of all their donors and beneficiaries despite managing thousands of crores of public money. These are funds raised by the government, these are not funds raised in private capacity by the Prime Minister. So all funds which are raised and given by the people in whatever form, even if it is in the form of a relief fund, must be subject CAG audit. 

The PMNRF is not a public authority under the Right to Information Act. Sharing the information would result in an “unwarranted invasion of the privacy of individuals”. A detail of how the PMNRF spent its money was not shared with even the Parliament or the Comptroller and Auditor General. PM Cares seems be having the same defects.   PM CARES seems be similarly opaque. 

In May 2018, a two judge bench of the Delhi High Court gave a split verdict: While Justice S. Ravindra Bhat felt the PMNRF is a public authority under the RTI act and needed to give all details sought by Takyar, Justice Sunil Gaur thought differently and said the PMNRF is not a public authority under the RTI act and therefore could not be compelled to share information under the provisions of the act. The judges asked the then chief justice of the Delhi High Court to refer the issue to a third judge. The matter is now listed for hearing on 15 July 2020. 

Income, Expenditure and Balance under PMNRF

Q. Can the PM Cares fund be made transparent?

Ans: If Article 148 of the Constitution is read with sections 13 to 20 of the DPC Act then we may plausibly infer that the said fund can be subjected to CAG SCRUTINY because it deals with:

A. MPLADS fund, which is drawn from the consolidated fund of India, has been diverted to the PM Cares fund. 

B. The trustees of the fund  are trustees  not because of their inindividual capacities but in their official capacities. Moreover the fund has attracted contributions because of the call by prime minister in his official capacity. 

Thus the said fund is amenable to the jurisdiction of the CAG (So it doesn’t matter whether the government has clarified this or not. The CAG is empowered to audit the PM cares account. So transparency may be not being the issue. 

error

Enjoy this? Please spread the word :)