News Desk: The Appellate Authority of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) on Tuesday held that Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund PM CARES Fund) is not a public authority.
The Deputy Secretary of the PMO upheld the refusal of the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) to disclose information.
The plea to disclose information relating to PM CARES Fund was sought by social activist Saket Gokhale.
On March 29, social activist Gokhale filed an application seeking a copy of the trust deed and trustees of the PM CARES Fund. He also sought exemption certificates granted to it under section 12A and 80G of the income tax.
On June 5, the Central Public Information disposed Gokhale’s application and stated that the PM CARES Fund is not a ‘public authority’ under the Act. He also stated that the relevant information About PM CARES Fund was available in its official sites.
Challenging CPIO, he filed a statutory appeal under the RTI Act. He pointed out that the Prime Minister was an ex-officio chairman of the Funds and that as per the website, the Under Secretary (Funds) in the PMO is the honorary custodian of the matters related to the Fund.
He also stated that several public sector utilities have contributed to the PM CARES Fund. Due to which it became a public authority under Section 2(h) of the Act.
He also highlighted that Schedule VII of the Companies Act, 2013 was amended on May 29 to allow donations to PM CARES Fund was to be counted as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) contributions.
The Appellate Authority without specifically addressing the arguments raised by Gokhale in his pleas stated, “Since PM CARES Fund is not a public authority under the ambit of Section 2(h) of the RTI Act, 2005, no further information could be shared with you”.
Gokhale was also informed that he could move the Central Information Commission within 90 days.
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