PM CARES does not impact donations to NDRF, says SC

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on August 18, 2020

Holds there is no need for a fresh disaster relief plan for dealing with Covid-19

The Supreme Court on Tuesday made it clear that money collected under the PM CARES Fund for Covid-19 pandemic relief need not be transferred to the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF). The apex court said it cannot direct the Government to do so.

This ruling sparked a tweet war between political parties. The BJP termed the ruling as a resounding blow to the nefarious designs of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and his band of ‘rent-a-cause’ activists. Congress, the principal Opposition party, is yet to respond.

PIL dismissed

Contributions to the PM CARES Fund are voluntary and there is no statutory prohibition on the donations made to the NDRF, a Bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subshash Reddy, and MR Shah said, while dismissing the public interest litigation (PIL) filed by the Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), an NGO.

The Court also held that there was no need for a fresh national disaster relief plan for Covid-19, and that the minimum standards of relief as issued under the Disaster Management Act prior to Covid-19 were enough.

Within minutes of the ruling, the BJP President JP Nadda said: “Rahul Gandhi’s rants have been repeatedly dismissed by the common man who has overwhelmingly contributed to PM CARES.”

Allocation of funds

“With the highest court also pronouncing its verdict, will Rahul and his ‘rent a cause’ activist army mend their ways?,” he asked. Party’s senior leader and Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, ₹3,100 crore was spent out of the funds to fight Covid-19 and ₹2,000 crore to provide ventilators. “50,000 ventilators provided to take care of the emergency needs of Covid-19 patients has been the highest since Independence,” he said, adding that ₹1,000 crore was allocated for the welfare of migrant workers and ₹100 crore for research to develop a vaccine against Covid-19.

In March, the Government set up the Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund (PM CARES Fund) to deal with any kind of emergency or distress situation, like the one posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, and to provide relief to the affected.

The Prime Minister is the ex-officio Chairman of the fund, while the Ministers of Defence, Home and Finance are ex-officio trustees.

Published on August 18, 2020

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