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Delhi HC to hear on Aug 28 plea challenging PMO’s decision to deny RTI on PM-CARES Fund


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New Delhi [India], June 10 (ANI): The Delhi High Court on Wednesday said that it will hear on August 28 a plea challenging a decision of the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO), Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), wherein an RTI application seeking documents related to the PM-CARES Fund was denied.
The PMO has raised questions on the maintainability to the petition challenging the decision of its CPIO. Thereafter, Justice Navin Chawla listed the matter for August 28 for further argument.
The plea, filed by one Samyak Gangwal, through advocates Debopriyo Moulik and Ayush Shrivastava, said that the CPIO refused to provide the documents sought by the petitioner on grounds that the Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM-CARES) Fund is not a ‘Public Authority’ as defined in the RTI Act, 2005.
He said that a public charitable trust named PM-CARES Fund was a measure to combat the COVID-19 pandemic by the PMO on March 28 through a press note.
In the press release, the PMO appealed to the citizens of our country to generously donate to the PM-CARES Fund in light of severe health and economic ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It was also announced that donations to PM-CARES fund would qualify as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and would be exempted from tax under Section 10 and Section 80G of the Income Tax Act, 1961, the plea said.
It said that on May 1, the petitioner exercising his Right to Information and filed an online RTI seeking the information about the PM-CARES Fund.
Meanwhile, another public interest litigation (PIL) seeking transparency on PM-CARES Fund was withdrawn. The PIL, being heard by a division bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan, was dismissed as withdrawn.
The PIL filed by one SS Hooda, through advocate Aditya Hooda, sought transparency of PM-CARES Fund and to display details of money received and for which purposes the amount was used in its website.
In the plea, Hooda said that anybody that is owned, controlled or substantially financed by the government qualifies a public authority under the RTI Act. He said that the government controls as well as substantially financed the PM-CARES Fund.
According to the plea, COVID-19 patients have a right to know about the funds. (ANI)

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