PM CARES Fund is not a “State”

The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) informed the Delhi High Court that the PM CARES Fund is not a “state” under Article 12 of the Indian Constitution and is not a “public authority” under the Right to Information Act, 2005.

According to the affidavit submitted by the Under Secretary of PMO, the PM CARES Fund has been established as a Public Charitable Trust and is not founded by or under the Constitution of India, Parliament, or any State Legislature.
“This Trust is neither intended to be nor is it actually owned, controlled, or substantially financed by any government or government agency.” According to the affidavit, neither the Central nor any State governments exercise any direct or indirect control over the trust’s operations.
In addition, the PMO has declared that the PMCARES Fund exclusively accepts voluntary contributions from individuals and institutions, and that contributions derived from the government’s budget or from the balance sheets of public sector organizations are not accepted.

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“Contributions to PMCARES Fund/Trust are free from federal income tax under the Income Tax Act of 1961, but this exemption alone does not establish that PMCARES Fund/Trust is a “public authority,” the document stated.
It has also argued that the fund cannot be considered a public authority because the purpose for which it was established is “purely charitable” and because neither the monies nor the Trust are used for any Government programmes or regulated by Government policy.
“Therefore, the PMCARES cannot be labelled ‘Public Authority.’ According to the statement, neither the contributions nor the corpus of PMCARES have any connection to the Consolidated Fund of India.
The PMO has stated that the PM Cares Fund does not have any official characteristics, as it was not established by a government decision or function, and there are no procedures for disbursing the monies.

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In addition, the document states that, like other private trusts, contributions to PM Cares Trust are exempt from federal income tax.

“That the PM CARES Fund is a public charitable trust comprised of voluntary contributions from individuals and institutions and is not a Central Government enterprise. In addition, the PM CARES Fund receives no funding from the government, the letter states.

In addition, it has been asserted that the PM CARES Fund, as well as grants disbursed from the fund, are accessible to the public on the website, and that its audited reports are also accessible on the website.

“Further audited account information will be made accessible on the Internet as they become due. “Therefore, the petitioner’s conclusions about arbitrariness and lack of transparency lack substance,” the statement adds.

The PMO has also asserted that the PM CARES Fund is operated similarly to the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF), since both are chaired by the Prime Minister.

The response adds that the National Emblem and domain name ‘’ are also used for the PM CARES Fund, just as they are for the PMNRF.

“The responding Respondent respectfully submits that the composition of the Board of Trustees consisting of holders of public office ex officio is solely for administrative convenience and for smooth succession to the trusteeship and is neither intended nor does it result in any form of governmental control over the operation of the Trust,” the response states.

The PMO has challenged the petition filed by Samyak Gangwal, who sought a declaration that the PM CARES Fund is “State” under Article 12 of India’s Constitution.

Questioning the petitioner’s locus standi, the affidavit asserts that the petition is founded on “suppositions and presumptions” and that a constitutional issue should not be decided in a vacuum.

The response states, “The present petition, however admittedly chosen in a vacuum, strives (but fails to establish) to promote and agitate a cause of particular parties with vested interest for extraneous purposes by means of smart drafting.”

Gangwal has petitioned to recognise the PM CARES Fund as a state. This, he stated, would necessitate periodic disclosure of the Fund’s audit reports, as well as quarterly disclosure of the Fund’s donation receipts, their utilisation, and resolutions regarding donation expenditures.

Alternately, it is argued that if the PM CARES Fund is not a state under Article 12, then the Center should actively publicize the fact that it is not a government fund. The petition further requests that the PM CARES Fund refrain from using “PM” in its name/website, the State Emblem, the domain name “gov” in its website, and the PM’s office as its official address.

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