It is a legitimate demand by the people to be allowed access to the transaction history of the PM CARES Fund since it is largely public money that has gone into it, says the author.
Abhinav Mehrotra, Assistant Professor, Jindal Global Law School, O.P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat, Haryana, India.
India’s central government has informed the Supreme Court that ex-gratia payment of Rs. 50,000 (USD 667) will be made to the families of those who died of Covid-19 and also to the kin of those who died of the virus following involvement in Covid-19 relief operations or activities associated with the preparedness for dealing with the pandemic.
This has put the spotlight on the various relief measures adopted by the government during the pandemic, and more specifically the much talked about Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM CARES Fund) that was created on 27 March 2020.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the fund chairman and the Ministers of Home Affairs, Defense and Finance are the trustees. The fund’s stated aim is to undertake and support relief or assistance of any kind relating to a public health emergency or any other kind of emergency.
However, despite having the PM and various ministers as chairman and trustees and using the national emblem of the Indian government, the fund is not a public authority as defined under the RTI (Right to Information) Act, 2005.
Simply put, the citizens in India, especially those who are poor, expect the government to provide them relief in times of distress and that has been happening since 1948 when The Prime Minister National Relief Fund (PMNRF) was set up by then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
Government-citizen collaboration is a well-established manner in which developing countries like India respond to the need for ensuring relief during times of pandemic as the government can’t act on its own. Thus it is a legitimate demand by the people to be allowed access to the transaction history of the PM CARES Fund since it is largely public money that has gone into it.
Published in: South Asia Monitor
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