NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday, August 18 refused to direct the Centre to transfer the contributions made to the PM CARES Fund for battling the COVID-19 pandemic to the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF).
A bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan also comprising justices R S Reddy and M R Shah were hearing the case.
Justice Ashok Bhushan said that voluntary contribution can always be made to the NDRF as there is no statutory bar under the Disaster Management Act. The bench also observed that a plan prepared by the government under the Disaster Management Act was sufficient for COVID-19 also.
The judgement came on a PIL, filed by NGO "Centre for Public Interest Litigation", seeking a direction that all the money collected under the PM CARES Fund for the COVID-19 pandemic should be transferred to the NDRF. The PIL had also sought a direction to the government to prepare, notify and implement a national plan under the Disaster Management Act to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
On March 28, the Centre had set up the Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM CARES) Fund with the primary objective to deal with any kind of emergency situation like the one currently posed by the COVID-19 outbreak and provide relief to those affected.
The prime minister is the ex-officio chairman of the fund and the ministers of defence, home and finance are its ex-officio trustees.
During the hearing in the top court on July 27, the Centre had defended the PM CARES Fund saying it is a public trust meant to receive "voluntary contributions" to fight COVID-19 pandemic and the budgetary allocations for NDRF and SDRF are not "being touched".