PM care fund not a Public Authority under section 2 (h) of Right To Information Act, 2005.

The PIL was filed by Kandukuri Surya Sri Harsha Teja, tequesting for trust deeds of pm cares fund and all orders and circular and orders in that respect. Where no documents were provided. In reply it was said that all the information can be seen on the site pmcares.gov.in

The PM CARES Fund was created on 28 March 2020, “with the primary objective of dealing with any kind of emergency or distress situation, like posed by the COVID-19 pandemic”.

Prime Minister is the ex-officio Chairman of the PM CARES Fund and Minister of Defence, Minister of Home Affairs and Minister of Finance, Government of India are ex-officio Trustees of the Fund.

“By denying PM CARES fund the status of ‘public authority’, it is only reasonable to infer that it is not controlled by the Government. If that is the case, who is controlling it? The name, composition of the trust, control, usage of emblem, government domain name everything signifies that it is a public authority. By simply ruling that it’s not a public authority and denying the application of RTI Act, the Government has constructed walls of secrecy around it. This is not just about lack of transparency and denying the application of the RTI Act to the fund, we should also be worried about how the fund is being operated. We do not know about the decision making process of the trust and safeguards available, so that the fund is not misused. For a trust which is created and run by 4 cabinet ministers in their ex-officio capacities, denying the status of ‘public authority’ is a big blow to transparency and not to mention our democratic values”, said Kandukuri Surya Sri Harsha Teja.

Public Authority
“public authority” means any authority or body or institution of self- government established or constituted—
(a) by or under the Constitution;
(b) by any other law made by Parliament;
(c) by any other law made by state legislature;
(d) by notification issued or order made by the appropriate Government, and includes any— (i) body owned, controlled or substantially financed; (ii) non-Government organization substantially financed, directly or indirectly by funds provided by the appropriate Government; The Act thus defines public authorities in two parts. The first part of the definition (clauses 2(h)(a) to (d))clearly delineate bodies created by the Constitution of India (Union and state executives, Election Commission, etc.), by laws made by Parliament and state legislatures (Central and state universities, regulators such as RBI, SEBI, TRAI etc.), and by government orders or notifications (Planning Commission) as public authorities. The second part broadens the scope of the definition of a public authority to include any body owned, controlled or substantially financed, and any non-governmental body substantially financed by the appropriate government. This second part of the definition has been the subject of much controversy largely because it leaves the question of what constitutes (a) ownership, (b) control or/and (c) substantial financing open to interpretation. Unsurprisingly therefore, most of the case law related to the question of public authorities is linked to this aspect of the definition.

PM CARES Fund is not constituted by parliament. The fund is recognized as a trust under the Income tax act. The fund is not controlled or substantially funded by government directly or indirectly so it can not be considered as Public Authority.

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