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Opinion

PM Cares ‘owned, controlled and established’ by government, says Center

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The central government, in response to a request under the Right to Information Act (RTI) of December 24, said that the PM-CARES fund is “owned, controlled and established by the Government of India.”

In its reply, the Income Tax (Exemption) Commissioner’s office said that “PM Cares Fund has been registered under the Registration Act 1908 and is a body owned, controlled and established by the Government of India”, but that It does not meet the definition of the so-called “public authority”.

In a previous response, the government had said that the fund was neither owned by any government nor controlled or “substantially funded by any government”. The fund was established to collect donations to raise funds for emergencies (beyond natural disasters), such as the Covid-19 pandemic. The Prime Minister is President (ex-officio) of the PM-CARES Fund. All contributions to the PM CARES Fund are 100% exempt from Income Tax.

The fund’s deed of trust issued on March 17 stated that the fund is not controlled by the government. “The trust is not intended to be and is not in fact substantially owned, controlled or funded by any government or any instrument of government,” the deed reads.

According to the PM CARES website, the fund raised ₹ 3,076.62 crore in 2019-20.

RTI’s response, however, maintains that the fund is outside the scope of the Right to Information Law, as it is not a “public authority.”

“I have no doubt that the PM CARES Fund” registered as a ‘Public Charitable Trust’, similar to an NGO, should be transparent as it has received many government services and facilities, ”said RTI activist Commodore Lokesh Batra (retd.).

HT contacted the prime minister’s special acting officer by email, but did not immediately receive a response. The government has said that disclosure of details about the fund is not feasible as it is “personal in nature”, not related to any “public authority or interest” and would cause an “unwarranted invasion of privacy”.

Hindustan Times

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