Appellate Authority in PMO affirms that PM cares fund is not a public authority under RTI Act

Appellate Authority in PMO affirms that PM CARES Fund is not a Public Authority under RTI Act:

The refusal of central public information officer (CPIO) was uphelded by Deputy Secretary of PMO in regard to discolsure of information related to PM CARES Fund by Saket Gokhale (a social activist).

Gokhale was seeking to know the trustees of the fund and the copy of the trust deed, and also exemption certificates granted under sections 12(A) and 80(G) of the Income tax Act, as per his application on 29tha March.

CPIO disposed off his application on 5th June commenting that PM CARES Fund is not a ‘Public Authority’ under the act and all the necessary information related to the Funds is available on the official website.

In response to this an statutory appeal was being filled by the activist under RTI Act. He stated that PMO is the custodian of the Funds related to PM CARES and also Prime minister is the ex-officio chairman of the Funds. He further added that as many public sector units like Indian Railways have contributed to the Funds, it is a public authority under the 2(h) of the RTI Act, as per which an entity is a ‘Public Authority’ if it is substantially financed (directly or indirectly) by the Government. He also stated that the donations to PM CARES Fund were made eligible to be conted as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) donations as per the amendment made in Schedule VII of the Companies Act, 2013 on 29th May.

The Appellate Authority in PMO stated in its order passed on 29th June, without specifically addressing arguments stated by Gokhale that:
“Since PM CARES Fund is not a public authority under the ambit of Section 2(h) of the RTI Act, 2005, no further information could be shared with you”. The Authority also restated that the necessary and most relevant information was already available on the official website.

Authority assured him that he could approach Central Information Comission within 90 days if he is not satisfied with the response of the Appellate Authority in PMO.

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