Plea in Bombay HC seeks CAG audit of PM CARES fund  

It also seeks disclosure of funds collected thus far by the fund, chaired by PM Modi

PM Care fund

A petition has been filed by a lawyer at the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court seeking an audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) into the Prime Minister’s Citizens Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Funds, also popularised as PM-CARES fund. The single bench of Justice Madhav Jamdar has directed the Union of India to file an affidavit in response to this petition.

The petitioner, a lawyer named Arvind Waghmare, contended in his petition that even though the fund has managed to gather Rs. 6,500 crores within the first week itself, the subsequent data on the collected funds has not been revealed. PM CARES is a public charitable trust created by the central government for dealing with COVID19.

The petition states that the fund is chaired by the Prime Minister and other members of the trust are members of the central cabinet. The petition alleges that three more trustees were to be appointed to the trust but no such appointment has been made as of yet.

The petition also seeks directions from the court that the central government appoints members of opposition parties as trust members in order to maintain have proper checks and balances and transparency in the functioning of the trust. When the fund was announced, it was stated that it will be audited by an independent auditor hence, the petition seeks an audit by the CAG instead.

The petition states that this needs to be done in order to “fortify and strengthen general public’s faith and confidence”. The petition stresses on the need to issue directions to the government to declare the amount of funds collected by far and declare how the funds have been utilised.

When PM CARES fund was introduced, critics questioned the need for the same when PM National Relief Fund (PMNRF) already existed. The transparency of the fund was mainly questioned and critics asked why both funds couldn’t be merged. Even corporates were allowed to fulfil their CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) obligations by donating to PM CARES thus diminishing the chances of NGOs to get funds from corporates for the real grassroots level work done by them. Further the fund was also criticised for not giving details on maintenance of accounts, their audit or on the answerability of the decisions taken by these four trustees, thus raising doubts about its transparency and accountability.


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