By Weindrila Sen-
The Apex Court today has refused to allow the transfer of the PM Cares Fund amount to National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF). Justice Ashok Bhushan, head of the bench said that temporary contributions could also be made to the NDRF as there is no bar under the Disaster Management Act. The PIL was filed by an NGO named Centre for Public Interest Litigation to seek direction to the Centre to transfer all the amount collected for the COVID-19 crisis from the PM Cares Fund to NDRF. The PIL further demanded a national plan for the COVID-19 pandemic, under the Disaster Management Act which was agreed by the three-judge bench.
PM Cares was set up on 28.03.2020 by the Centre to accumulate funds for the ongoing pandemic crisis in the country. The fund amount was used to provide relief to the affected ones. Minsters of home, finance, and defence are the ex-officio trustees and the Prime Minister is the ex-officio chairman of the fund. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had clarified that the NDRF is funded through budgetary allocation whereas PM Cares Fund is a voluntary fund.
Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, from the petitioner’s side, mentioned that they have no doubt regarding the authenticity of the fund but the creation of the fund is a contravention of provisions mentioned in the Disaster Management Act. Advocate Dave further added that NDRF’s audit will be done by Auditor General whereas PM Cares audit will be done by any private auditing body.