This article has been written by Kashish Goyal, a student of Mody University of Science and Technology, Rajasthan
Prime Minister‘s Assistance Relief fund which was launched on 28 March 2020 to mitigate with the untold disasters like to fight with the current pandemic situations like COVID-19. The setting up of this fund is not only to provide relief to the lives of the people but also to those who are affected by the lockdown. This fund could also be used for other future crises as well. This Fund has been set up as a public charitable trust. The Prime Minister of India is the chairman of this trust and it also includes Home minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharam as its members. Modi’s PM Care fund is more democratic and constitutional in many ways. Hence, this separate fund makes a perfect sense. As per the legality for the making of this charitable trust, Virag Gupta, a Supreme Court lawyer, said if this fund is registered as per the relevant law i.e. The Registration Act,1948, then there should be no question on the validity of this fund.
According to the Public Charitable trust, there are some rules which would be followed, like the opposition party will not be consulted or appointed or given a place on the boards of trustee of the public charitable institution according to the constitution. As per the registration deed, dated 27 March, the fund’s objective includes any relief or any assistance relating to the public health emergency or any kind of emergency or natural disaster, etc. A senior BJP functionary said Congress was objecting to PM Care Fund – The idea is not to make the PM Care Fund political issue. People will be on the board of trustees on the basis of positions in government not on the basis of BJP representation. However, Mohit Choudhary of Kings and allowance a Supreme Court Lawyer said that there are the various number of charitable trust all are not meant for charity if they are not governed by laws and regulations, but he feels that with PM is the chairperson with others members will hardly be an issue for the contribution to the fund.
According to section 80(G) Income Tax Act, 1961which states that contribution made to certain relief funds and charitable institutions can be claimed as a deduction. The contribution towards PM Care fund will be an eligible expenditure under Corporate Social Responsibility (Under Corporate Social Responsibility), companies have to spend 2% of the last year’s profit to the social causes as Many corporate houses like Reliance Industries, JSW Steel, etc have contributed to PM Care Fund. There are others who believe that a separate fund made for this disease would encourage more people to contribute because everyone is affected by the Coronavirus Outbreak.
Many questions have been put up regarding it that why there is the need for separate funds while there was already a fund existing namely PMNRF which means Prime Minister National Relief Fund? This answer will make you more clear about the validity of PM Care Fund by the statement which shows that in the previous fund, PM had sole discretion to manage this fund, there were no other staff members to assist, unlike the Care fund, here the power is delegated to the other ministers. PMNRF had insufficient balance to deal with this pandemic as this fund is for all kinds of natural disasters and currently, it is especially meant for COVID-19 disease. The government also says that any spending from the Consolidated Fund of India needs to be passed by the parliament. As this fund is attached to the cause. This fund enables micro-donations, as a result, a large number of people will be able to contribute to the smallest number of denominations.
For Example, an Earthquake in Andaman or a storm in Orissa is not something for which the people have a concern as that of this disease. This fund will be opened for donations from abroad after the exemption from the foreign Contribution regulation Act,2010. The donor will be able to receive the receipt from the PM Care Fund portal. The money will be transferred to the PMNRF Fund to ensure efficiency and transparency, On Monday, a Plea was filed against the setting up of the PM Care Fund.
The Supreme Court dismissed the plea through video conferencing which was headed by Lawyer, M.L Sharma, and by the Chief justice S.A. Bobde. They contended that this fund is not created with the Article 266 and Article 267 of the Constitution which deals with the contingency and Consolidated Fund of India or appeal by the Prime Minister to donate funds in that trust is without any ordinance and gazette notification by the government of India.
Article 266 of the Constitution states that all revenues received by the government shall be entitled to the Consolidated Fund of India or any other public money received on the behalf of the government shall be entitled to the public account of India. No money shall be out of the consolidated fund of India except according to the law and manner provided in the Constitution. Article 267 states that Parliament by law establish Contingency Fund which shall be paid from time to time which will be determined by the law and this fund shall be placed at the disposal of the president to enable advances out of this fund for meeting unforeseen expenditure or in case of State, the legislature of the state will determine and this fund will enable the governor of the state to meet the unforeseen expenditure. But it is said that this trust is created with the provision of Article 266 and Article 267.
As we know under Article 360, which talks about the financial emergency. Due to this pandemic, the fund is collected from the public to provide relief to those who are affected by Corona. Salary and allowances have been deducted from many pubic authorities. Various Banks, Employees, and Judges are contributing to this fund. So, we can say that our country is in a financial emergency according to the Constitution.