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Saket Gokhale Files Intervention In Supreme Court Suo Moto COVID19 Case For Impleading PM CARES Fund As Respondent

first_imgTop StoriesSaket Gokhale Files Intervention In Supreme Court Suo Moto COVID19 Case For Impleading PM CARES Fund As Respondent Akshita Saxena19 May 2021 12:24 AMShare This – xActivist Saket Gokhale has moved an intervention application in the Supreme Court suo moto case on Covid-19, urging that the PM CARES Fund be made a respondent in the case. He has submitted that PM CARES Fund has been an “important stakeholder” in the procurement and funding of essential supplies and services for the Covid-19 pandemic since last year, when the first Lockdown was announced. The core objective of this Fund is to undertake and support relief or assistance of any kind relating to a ‘public health emergency’, including the creation or upgradation of healthcare or pharmaceutical facilities and providing financial assistance and grants.Advertisement Towards this end, the Fund has collected monetary contributions from India as well as overseas, including salary contributions by employees and members of several Indian Ministries and PSUs. In this backdrop, Gokhale states, “PM CARES Fund is a non-governmental stakeholder that has been closely involved in decisions and projects that have been closely related to the distribution and supplies of essentials in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic albeit through the Government of India.Advertisement …it is important that PM CARES Fund make available all information to this Hon’ble Court on the various allocations it has made towards fighting the Covid-19 pandemic and how it has monitored the progress of projects to which monetary allocations were made.” It is submitted that the PM CARES Fund announced last year in May, that it has allocated ₹3000 crores for Covid-19 of which ₹2000 crore will be earmarked for the purchase of ventilators, ₹1000 crores will be used for care of migrant labourers and ₹100 crores will be given to support vaccine development.Advertisement Advertisement Similarly, it claimed to have allocated ₹201.58 crores for installation of additional 162 dedicated Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) Medical Oxygen Generation Plants inside public health facilities in the country. “However, in proceedings before the Delhi High Court and in media reports, there have been conflicting reports about how many of these plants were installed and were operational,” Gokhale alleges.Advertisement Advertisement Advertisement On the issue of vaccines, Gokhale says, Centre has stated that no money was allocated or spent by it towards Covid-19 vaccine development, and hence, it has no control over deciding the pricing of the vaccines. “However, PM CARES Fund itself has declared an allocation of ₹100 crores towards vaccine development and it is unclear whether any additional funds were allocated for the same purpose for which information was not made available in the public domain,” the plea states. Gokhale has also highlighted how, the PM CARES Fund is administered by the Prime Minister of India and other Union Ministers, uses the national emblem in its logo, uses ‘.gov’ internet domain which is restricted to govt entities, and yet claims that it is neither related to the Govt of India and nor is it controlled by it. “PM CARES Fund has been an independent and seperate entity from the Union of India that has been collecting and disbursing funds for several Covid-19 related activities including for the development of vaccines. PM CARES Fund has not declared its accounts and has rejected RTI enquiries into the same on the grounds that it is not a public authority,” the plea states. In May 2020, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) refused to divulge information about PM CARES FUNDS in response to an RTI application. It stated that the Fund is not a ‘public authority’ under Section 2(h) of the Right to Information Act, 2005. The decision was subsequently affirmed by the Appellate Authority of PMO. The Supreme Court also observed that there is no occasion for audit of PM CARES Fund by the Comptroller & Auditor General of India as it is a public charitable trust.Tags#Supreme Court Suo Moto COVID-19 Case PM Cares Fund Saket Gokhale Essential Supplies Subscribe to LiveLaw, enjoy Ad free version and other unlimited features, just INR 599 Click here to Subscribe. All payment options available.loading….Next Storylast_img read more