No Corruption in Modi’s PM-CARES Fund to Tackle Coronavirus: Minister

Ravi Shankar Prasad - Law Minister of India. (file photo). Courtesy: PIB
Ravi Shankar Prasad – Law Minister of India. (file photo). Courtesy: PIB

While the PM-CARES Fund was created by PM Modi in a secretive way to collect money to deal with coronavirus, the Modi government refuses to reveal the details of money collected and spent through this account.

By Rakesh Raman

As serious doubts are being raised about the transparency in the PM-CARES Fund launched by PM Narendra Modi to deal with coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, the government today (August 18) tried to silence the probing voices.

A minister in the Modi government Ravi Shankar Prasad claimed that there is total transparency in the fund and it has been unnecessarily targeted in the courts.

His statement came on the heels of a Supreme Court ruling today (August 18) that rejected a plea seeking directions to transfer all contributions made to the PM-CARES Fund to the National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF).

While the PM-CARES Fund was created by PM Modi in a secretive way to collect money to deal with coronavirus, the Modi government refuses to reveal the details of money collected and spent through this account.

According to reports, the Supreme Court rejected a plea seeking directions to transfer all contributions made to the PM-CARES Fund to the NDRF, a public account which is auditable and publicly available. The petition, filed by NGO ‘Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL)’ through advocate Prashant Bhushan, had sought a direction to the Centre to transfer all contributions made to the PM-CARES Fund, set up for Covid-19 relief, to the NDRF.

It is being increasingly observed that the Supreme Court of India does not dare to challenge the decisions of the Modi government. Many people believe that after the court’s refusal to probe the corruption in Modi’s Rafale deal, this case of PM-CARES Fund has also been brushed under the carpet.

However, minister Ravi Shankar Prasad claimed that the court judgment made it clear that the law had been followed in running the PM-CARES Fund, which, he said, has contributed Rs. 3,100 crore to the fight against coronavirus. “The fund is transparent and corruption-free,” the minister asserted.

But it is difficult to digest his assertion. While the minister is making loose statements about the transparency of the fund, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) refuses to release its details formally.

The PMO has denied a Right to Information (RTI) request that sought information on PM-CARES Fund. In its reply, according to a report in The Hindu newspaper published on August 17, the PMO refused to entertain the RTI request on the grounds that providing it would “disproportionately divert the resources of the office.”

However, according to the report, a High Court judgment and multiple orders of the Central Information Commission (CIC) have previously held that, under the RTI Act, this rationale can only be used to change the format of information provided, not deny it altogether.

Obviously, there is hardly any transparency in the management of the Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund (PM CARES Fund) that was created on 28 March 2020 following the Covid-19 pandemic in India.

Moreover, with nearly 3 million reported cases, India has become the epicenter of coronavirus and is posing a serious threat to the entire world as the virus will travel from here to other countries.

By Rakesh Raman, who is a national award-winning journalist and social activist. He is the founder of a humanitarian organization RMN Foundation which is working in diverse areas to help the disadvantaged and distressed people in the society. He also creates and publishes a number of digital publications and research reports on different subjects. These publications include the “Covid Health Bulletin” that covers global coronavirus news and views.

Support RMN News Service for Independent Fearless Journalism

In today’s media world controlled by corporates and politicians, it is extremely difficult for independent editorial voices to survive. Raman Media Network (RMN) News Service has been maintaining editorial freedom and offering objective content for the past more than 10 years despite enormous pressures and extreme threats. In order to serve you fearlessly in this cut-throat world, RMN News Service urges you to support us financially with your donations. You may please click here and choose the amount that you want to donate. Thank You. Rakesh Raman, Editor, RMN News Service.

RMN News

Rakesh Raman