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PMO seeks dismissal of PIL against use of PM’s name, national flag and emblem by PM-CARES

The PIL had said that PM-CARES is a public charitable trust, a non-governmental entity, which is functioning privately and the amount collected by it does not go to the Consolidated Fund of India.

Written by Omkar Gokhale | Mumbai |
Updated: January 18, 2022 6:11:34 pm
The PIL had said that PM-CARES is a public charitable trust, a non-governmental entity, which is functioning privately and the amount collected by it does not go to the Consolidated Fund of India.

The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) recently opposed and sought dismissal of a PIL by the Thane District Congress president seeking directions for removal of the name ‘Prime Minister’, the ‘National Flag’ and the ‘Emblem’ from the name of the trust called “PMs Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM-CARES) Fund” and its web portal.

The PMO stated that the use of the national Flag is in conformity with the usage allowed by the law, as per which any citizen of the country is permitted to use them with some exceptions and there is no violation in use of national symbols for the PM-CARES fund.

The PIL had said that PM-CARES is a public charitable trust, a non-governmental entity, which is functioning privately and the amount collected by it does not go to the Consolidated Fund of India. Therefore, the use of the name and picture of the Prime Minister, flag and emblem violate the laws and rules governing the said symbols, the plea said.

A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Makarand S Karnik was hearing a PIL filed by Vikrant Chavan, Thane district Congress president and councillor of Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC), filed through advocate Sagar Joshi on October 5.

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The petitioner, through advocates Suhas Oak and Sagar Joshi, said as per the Trust Deed, which was executed on March 27, 2020, the PM, who is a chairman, and all the trustees, including Union ministers, are appointed in their ‘personal capacity’ and the same trust does not discharge any “regal, governmental or sovereign functions”.

The PIL had added that as the trust has collected over Rs 3,000 crore for relief work using the name and photograph of the Prime Minister, national flag and emblem, it flouted laws, including The Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950 and its Rules, along with State Emblem of India (Prohibition of Improper Use) Act, 2005 and subsequent rules.

Noting that it was an “important issue”, the High Court had last month directed Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh for the Union government to file an affidavit in reply to the plea.

The affidavit in reply filed by Pradeep Kumar Srivastava, undersecretary, PMO, challenged the correctness of the petitioner’s contentions and denied the same.

“PM-CARES fund and Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF) are both chaired by the Prime Minister. As the name, photograph of the Prime Minister and National Emblem are being used for the PMNRF, they are also being used for the PM-CARES Fund. Flag Code of India, 2002, which brings together all laws, conventions, practices and instructions regarding display of National Flag provided that there cannot restriction on display of National Flag by members of general public, private organizations, educational institutions etc, except to extend provided in the Emblems and Names Act, 1950,” the affidavit read.

The affidavit also said that while the PM is chairperson (ex-officio) of the PM-CARES Fund, the ministers of Defence, Home Affairs, Finance are ex-officio Trustees of the Fund in “pro bono capacity”.

It added, “The composition of the Board of Trustees consisting of holders of public office ex officio is merely for administrative convenience and for smooth succession of trusteeship.”

The PMO also said that the petitioner has approached the High Court without exhausting administrative remedies under the concerned laws and rules and therefore, “the plea is devoid of merits and deserves to be dismissed”.

On Tuesday, the bench granted 15-day time for the petitioner to file a rejoinder to the PMO’s reply and posted the matter for further hearing after three weeks.

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