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Delhi HC grants Centre more time to file detailed reply on plea to declare PM Cares fund a 'State'
New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Friday granted more time to file a response to petitions seeking to declare the PM CARES Fund a 'State' under the Constitution. The petitioner has also sought direction to restrain PM CARES FUND from using Prime Minister of India or Prime Minister including its abbreviations in its name and on its website.
The bench of Justice Satish Chander Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad on Friday noted the submissions of Counsel appeared for Centre Government sought more time to file a response in the matter. The bench while granted more time, deferred the matter for January 31, 2023, for the next hearing.
Earlier the same bench had shown displeasure to Central Government over an affidavit filed in the 'PM Cares Fund' matter of one page having no whisper of what the petitioner is arguing in court and said "The issue is not so simple. We want an extensive reply."
The bench expressed its surprise over a one-page affidavit in PM Cares Fund and said on a 'serious issue' where a petition raising the question of whether it is a state under Article 12 of the Constitution or not.
The bench had asked the Centre to file a detailed affidavit in this regard and also said the court will look into it and every point in the matter. This matter will undoubtedly travel to the Supreme Court and we have to give detailed judgement dealing with all the issues raised.
The Court was hearing petitions filed by Samyak Gangwal, who sought to declare the PM CARES Fund a 'State' under the Constitution.
Meanwhile, the petitioner has also sought direction to restrain 'PM Cares Fund' from using Prime Minister of India or Prime Minister including its abbreviations in its name and on its website.
Senior Advocate Shyam Divan appearing for Petitioner earlier argued that PM Cares is using the Govt of India portal, the national emblem is also on its left side. If Trust's fund is not a fund of the Government of India then this would be a violation if it's a private party.
The trustees of it are also not ordinary functionaries. They have taken a high oath of office.
Prime Minister's Office (PMO), in response to the petition, had said that the PM CARES Fund is not a fund of the Government of India and the amount does not go into the Consolidated Fund of India.
PMO also said that PM Cares Trust is a charitable Trust not created by or under the Constitution of India or by any law made by the Parliament or by any State legislature.
"I state that the Trust functions with transparency and its funds are audited by an auditor who is a Chartered Accountant drawn from the panel prepared by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India," said the affidavit filed by an Under Secretary at the PMO.
The affidavit further added that to ensure transparency, the audited report is put on the official website of the trust along with the details of the utilisation of funds received by the Trust.
"Suffice to mention that all donations received by the Trust are received via online payments, cheques and /or Demand Drafts and the amount so received is audited with the audited report and the expenditure of Trust fund displayed on the website. In view of the specific provisions of section 8 of the Right to Information Act, the relief against para 5.3 of the Trust Deed dated 27.3.2020 pales into insignificance." read the affidavit.
Adding further, it said that the 'Trust functions' on the principles of transparency and public good in larger public interest like any other charitable trust and, therefore, cannot have any objection in uploading all its resolutions on its website to ensure transparency.
Adding further, the Centre said that the 'Trust functions' on the principles of transparency and public good in larger public interest like any other charitable trust and, therefore, cannot have any objection to uploading all its resolutions on its website to ensure transparency.
However, such a prayer is not only unheard of but is legally not maintainable, the Centre said while urging Delhi High Court to dismiss the petition.
In another petition, Gangwal challenged the decision of the Central Public Information Officer, Prime Minister's Office wherein the RTI application seeking documents related to the PM Cares Fund Fund was denied. Gangwal has filed its petition through advocates Debopriyo Moulik and Ayush Shrivastava. (ANI)