Existence of NDR fund does not prohibit PM-CARES: Centre to SC
New Delhi: The Centre has informed the Supreme Court that there are several funds which were either established earlier or now for carrying out various relief works, and PM-CARES is one such fund with voluntary donations.
The affidavit filed by the Ministry of Home Affairs said "It is submitted there exists a fund stipulated under section of the DMA (Disaster Management Act) which is called NDR fund. However, mere existence of a statutory fund would not prohibit in creation of a different fund like PM-CARES fund which provides for voluntary donations."
The Centre contended that the petition seeking a direction that the funds received by PM-CARES to be credited to NDRF (National Disaster Response Fund) is neither maintainable on merits nor is maintainable under Article 32 as all funds other than the funds stipulated under section 46 of Disaster Management Act, 2005 are separate, different and distinct, created separately under separate provisions.
On June 17, the apex court issued notice to the Centre on a PIL seeking to transfer funds from PM-CARES to National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF).
A bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and M R Shah asked the Centre to file a response within four weeks. Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), in the plea claimed that in the backdrop of Covid-19 pandemic, NDRF is not being utilised by the authorities, and establishing the PM-CARES fund is outside the scope of the Disaster Management Act.
The petitioner argued that the entire funds collected in PM-CARES till date may be directed to be transferred to the NDRF.
"Centre may be directed to utilise National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) for the purpose of providing assistance in the fight against Covid-19 pandemic in compliance with Section 46 of the DM Act, all the contributions/grants from individuals and institutions shall be credited to the NDRF in terms of Section 46(1)(b) rather than to PM-CARES fund and all the funds collected in the PM-Cares till date may be directed to be transferred to the NDRF", said the PIL.
The petition argued that there is need to put in place a broader and well thought out national plan outlining inter alia a detailed coordination mechanism between the Centre and states. "Section 11 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 (hereinafter referred to as the "DM Act") makes it mandatory for a national plan to be drawn up for disaster management for whole of the country but currently, there is no such national plan in place to deal with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic", argued the plea.