A few days ago an update came from the Prime Minister’s Office, in which it has been said that the PM Cares Fund, does not come under the purview of the Right to Information Act. PM Cares Fund which was created to fight the Covid-19 Pandemic in which people have given a number of donations. So it does not come under the purview of the PM Cares Fund RTI Act- Right to Information Act.
RTI Act – Right to Information Act, 2005
The RTI Act – Right to Information Act was passed in the, 2005 and its main objective was that citizens who can take their rights from any government office if they want any information, they can take information from public office. So, its complete rules and procedures are written inside your RTI Act-2005 file.
Even before the RTI Act, there was an Act named Freedom of Information Act 2002, so the Act was replaced in the RTI, but there is a question as to who can take this information. Can any foreign citizen also use RTI and from whom this information can be obtained?
First thing you should be a citizen of India. You cannot ask for information from a private company. There is a public authority here, you can take information from it and this information has to be given to that public authority within 30 days. If you do not get the information in 30 days, then you can appeal again and from that time you will be given this information.
But a very big problem can come in that the public authority, in which whom you will call a public authority, there is a section inside the RTI Act 2005, section 2(h) is mentioned inside this particular section. That any such institution is established or constituted by the government in our country which is written inside our constitution. If our Parliament has made any law or any law has been made in any state legislature and or the government has issued a notification and has established an institution, then we will call it public authority.
You will remember that our PM had announced on Twitter that we are going to create a PM Cares Fund on 28 March 2020. The PM Narendra Modi appealed that all the people who are capable donate the amount and can help to fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
But in view of this, on April 1, there were RTI activists named Shri. Harsh Kandakuri, then Kandakuri Ji filed a petition in the PM office and wanted to get much more information about this special PM Cares Fund. As the documents of the institution were sought information about it, who would run it, who built the institution, information was asked about all these things here.
But no information came for the next 30 days. In view of this, he appealed again, and finally on 29th May, the PM office gave this information that whatever Mr. Harsh Kandakuri Sahab asked, information was given about it. But what is the problem? PM office said that PM Cares Fund is not a public authority, which is mentioned under section 2 (h).
So the PM office has clearly said that it does not come in the PM Cares Fund RTI. So whatever information you are asking for, we cannot provide it and they also said that whatever information related to the PM Cares Fund, we have already put all the information on the website www.pmcares. gov. in.
But this dispute does not end here, because if you understand it if we say it is not a public authority, what does it mean that the government that is there is not controlling it. But you all know that this is the PM Cares Fund, there is 4 board of trustees inside it. Like the chairman who is the PM Narendra Modi, the defense minister, home minister, and finance minister are also trustees. So we can understand that these are being run by the government.
So the RTI activists believed that if the top four people of the country were running it in any organization and if we do not consider this institution as a public authority then it would not be right for the democratic value of our country and the RTI activists who filed this petition said that there is a big shock to the transparency that they have told.
Second, whether it comes within the CAG or not, can the CAG audit it or not? There is not much clarity on it. But if NDTV found out from the CAG through sources, an article came over it and through CAG sources it was told that PM Cares Fund also will not come inside the CAG audit.
Why won’t it come because the donations are contributions from individuals and Organizations? The government is not carrying out any campaign or is not telling any people to put money in it. Therefore, it does not come under the CAG but it will be audited, the PM office said. How will the audit be done? The trustees who are there will tell you that an Independent will be the auditor here. He will audit this personal fund.
So, how much money has come so far in the PM Cares Fund, based on the report of the Times of India, about 10 thousand crore rupees have been received through the donation so far in the PM Cares Fund. Of which the highest number is from the private firm, the second number is from the public firm. Then by the employees who work in your public firm.