The Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM Cares Funds) has been defined by the government as a government trust for corporate donations. However, a clause within the trust documents calls it a private entity, exempting it from RTI scrutiny.
This has raised questions over the Fund’s entity- whether it’s a personal or a public one. According to a report in NDTV, PM-CARES trust has been registered with the revenue department of Delhi, with Prime Minister as the chairperson and senior ministers as trustees. However, the 16 pages the Deed of trust recently put out on the Fund’s website that it is not a government deed.
The Deed mentions that the trust is neither intended to nor is it owned or controlled or financed by the government. There is no direct or indirect involvement of the state or central government in the funds. PM Cares funds was founded by PM Modi in March to “deal with emergency or distress situations just like the coronavirus pandemic”. PM Cares trust was registered on March 27 in the wake of fighting Covid-19 pandemic. On March 28, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs issued an office memorandum qualifying PM-CARES as corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative to receive corporate donations.
Documents accessed by activist Anjali Bhardwaj through an RTI query has revealed that the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, while issuing the Office Memorandum on March 28, defined PM-CARES as a “fund found out by the central government”
However, the deed trust told that it was not government-run, so now, PM-CARES couldn’t be eligible for corporate donations. The contradiction went on until almost two months later, on May 26, the Corporate Affairs Ministry added PM-CARES Fund to the Companies Act retrospectively from March 28.
In August, Former Finance Minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram have also raised several questions regarding PM Cares Fund. He raised questions regarding the appointment of the trustees and also that if it were a private entity, then why are the funds being counted against CSR.