A petition has been filed in Delhi High Court seeking direction to put PM Care Fund under the RTI Act 2005 and disclose on its website all the details regarding the money received and utilised. Earlier, the Prime Minister Office denied giving details to an RTI saying that the PM Care Fund was not a 'public authority' under Section 2(h) of the Right to Information Act, 2005.
The petition has been filed by Dr. SS Hooda through Advocate Aditya Hooda, claiming that any body ‘owned’, ‘controlled’ or ‘substantially financed’ by the government, is a public authority under Right To Information Act 2005. PM Care Fund is both financed and controlled by the government, hence qualifies to be a public authority.
It is further stated that “The Prime Minister is the ex-officio chairman of PM CARES fund while the ministers of Defense, Home Affairs and Finance are its ex-officio trustees. The Chairman and trustees of the fund further have the power to appoint three additional trustees. The Rules/criterions for spending the funds of the trust shall be formulated by the Prime Minister and the three ministers aforementioned”
The plea also argues that the fund of rs. 10,000 crores has been collected from the donations given by Public Sector Undertakings, Central Ministries and Departments. The salaries of armed forces personnel, civil servants and members of the judiciary were compulsorily deducted to donate it in the fund.
Thus, it was submitted that, according to the ruling of Supreme Court under PUCL v. Union of India, (2004) 2 SCC 476, PM Care Fund is a public authority.
It was argued that the RTI Act came out of Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution so even if PM Care Fund is not a public authority, citizens still have fundamental right to know about the details. The plea further submits that the COVID-19 patients have a ‘Right to Know’ about the collection and disposal of the fund received under PM Care Fund.
The plea says that the reluctance shown by the trustees in giving out the details raises "profoundly serious apprehension"
Delhi High Court will hear the matter on 10th June 2020.