From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : PM-CARES, Public Authority under RTI
Mains level : RTI issues
The PMO has refused to disclose details on the creation and operation of the PM-CARES Fund, telling a Right to Information applicant that the fund is “not a public authority” under the ambit of the RTI Act, 2005.
Practice question for mains:
Q. The PM-CARES fund is an old wine in a new bottle. Discuss its feasibility and how it is different in context to the PMNRF.
About PM-CARES Fund
- The fund will be a public charitable trust under the name of ‘Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund’.
- The PM is Chairman of this trust and members include the Defence Minister, Home Minister and Finance Minister.
- Contributions to the fund will qualify as corporate social responsibility (CSR) spending that companies are mandated to make.
- The Fund accepts micro-donations as well.
Not a public authority
- The PMO cited a Supreme Court observation that indiscriminate and impractical demands under RTI Act for disclosure of all and sundry information would be counterproductive.
- PM-CARES Fund is not a Public Authority under the ambit of Section 2(h) of the RTI Act, 2005.
- However, relevant information in respect of PM-CARES Fund may be seen on its website.
Then, what makes an authority, Public?
The relevant section of the RTI Act defines a “public authority” as “any authority or body or institution of self-government established or constituted —
- by or under the Constitution;
- by any other law made by Parliament;
- by any other law made by State Legislature;
- by the notification issued or order made by the appropriate Government — and includes any (i) body owned, controlled or substantially financed; (ii) NGO substantially financed, directly or indirectly by funds provided by the appropriate govt.
Arguments against PM-CARES
- The fund carries a public name, the composition of the trust, control, usage of an emblem, government domain name etc. that signifies it as a public authority.
- PM is the ex-officio chairman of the Trust, while three cabinet ministers are ex-officio trustees.
- The composition of the trust is enough to show that Government exercises substantive control over the trust, making it a public authority.