No Audit of PM-CARES Funds by CAG: SC
- 19 Aug 2020
- 5 min read
Why in News
The Supreme Court said that being a public charitable trust, “there is no occasion for audit of Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund (PM-CARES Fund) by the Comptroller & Auditor General (CAG) of India”
- It also refused to order transfer of funds from the PM CARES Fund to the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF).
- No Audit by CAG: The Court ruled that while NDRF is to be audited by the CAG of India according to the Disaster Management Act, 2005, a public charitable trust like PM-CARES Fund need not be.
- The Fund will, however, be audited by an independent auditor.
- No Transfer of Funds of PM-CARES to NDRF: The Court ruled ”The PM CARES Fund is a charitable trust registered under the Registration Act, 1908. The trust does not receive any Budgetary support or any Government money.”
- NDRF, formed under Section 46 of the DM Act of 2005, were provided for by Central and State Budgets.
- Individuals Can Contribute to NDRF: The court held that there is “no statutory prohibition on individuals to make voluntary contributions to NDRF” under Section 46(1)(b) of the DM Act.
- No New National Plan: The Court also also rejected the request for a direction to the government to put in place a new National Disaster Management Plan under the DM Act, to deal with Covid-19 situation.
- The bench said “all aspects of epidemics, all measures to contain an epidemic, preparedness, response, mitigation have been elaborately dealt in the National Disaster Management Plan, 2019.”
- No intervention in Minimum Standards of Relief: The court also declined to intervene with the “minimum standards of relief” and the necessary guidelines issued by the government under Section 12 of the DM Act.
- The provision holds that the National Authority shall recommend guidelines for the minimum standards of relief to be provided to persons affected by disaster, which shall include the minimum requirements to be provided in the relief camps in relation to shelter, food, drinking water, medical cover and sanitation; special provisions to be made for widows and orphans; ex gratia assistance on account of loss of life as also assistance on account of damage to houses and for restoration of means of livelihood, among other things.
- The government authorities invoked their respective powers under the Disaster Management (DM) Act, 2005 to deal with the Covid-19 outbreak in the country.
- The PM-CARES Fund was created to deal with any kind of emergency or distress situation like posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
- The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said that the PM-CARES Fund is not a public authority under the ambit of the Right to Information Act (RTI), 2005.
- It also denied information on the number of applications and appeals related to PM-CARES and the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund, raising concerns on its transparency and accountability.
- Recently, the Fund’s website gave information that it collected more than ₹3,076 crore in the first five days after it was set up which also includes foreign donations.
- The Fund’s website says that ₹3,100 crore have been sanctioned from the PM-CARES Fund to be spent on ventilators, migrant worker welfare and vaccine development.
National Disaster Management Plan (NDMP)
- It provides a framework and direction to the government agencies for all phases of the disaster management cycle.
- The primary aim of the plan is to make India disaster resilient and drastically lessen the damage caused during and in the aftermath of disasters, natural and man-made.
- The National Disaster Management Plan (NDMP) was first released in 2016.The plan was updated in 2016, 2018 and 2019.
- The NDMP 2019 incorporates Prime Minister's ten point agenda for Disaster Risk Reduction.