Former Finance Minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram Wednesday hit out at the Centre over the alleged lack of clarity in the donations received by the Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM-CARES) fund.
“The auditors of PM-CARES fund have confirmed that the Fund received Rs 3,076 crore in just 5 days between March 26 and 31, 2020. But the names of these generous donors will not be revealed. Why?” Chidambaram said in a tweet.
The auditors of PM CARES FUND have confirmed that the Fund received Rs 3076 crore in just 5 days between March 26 and 31, 2020.
— P. Chidambaram (@PChidambaram_IN) September 2, 2020
Chidambaram further said that every NGO or Trust in the country is obliged to reveal the name of donors contributing more than a threshold amount and questioned the Centre over why the relief fund is being exempted from the obligation.
“The donee is known. The trustees of the donee are known. Why are the trustees afraid to reveal the names of the donors?” he said.
Launched on March 28, the PM-CARES fund was set up to receive contributions for Covid-19 relief operations. According to an account statement made public on the PM-CARES website, the fund received Rs 3,076.62 crore in just five days of its formation. The ‘receipt and payment account’ showed nearly Rs 3,075.85 crore as ‘voluntary contributions’, while Rs 39.67 lakh came as foreign contributions.
The fund had generated a lot of interest immediately after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced its formation and appealed for donations.
Earlier in August, Chidambaram had accused the BJP government of shielding the fund from scrutiny, asking why donations to the fund are counted against CSR if it is privately established. He asked if donations to other privately-established funds will also be counted against CSR.
He had also asked why the Prime Minister and three ministers are serving as Trustees in the fund if it was not set up by the Central government.
“Was the Fund set up by the Central government as concluded by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs? If not, who set up the Fund and in what capacity? If the Fund was not set up by the central government, why are the PM and three Ministers serving as Trustees? Who appointed them as Trustees?” he had asked in a series of tweets.
Last week, a Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court had also rejected public interest litigation (PIL) seeking, among other things, weekly declaration of details of receipts and expenditure from the PM CARES Fund on its official website.
The PIL by city lawyer Arvind Waghmare was dismissed by a bench comprising Justice Sunil Shukre and Justice Anil Killor on the grounds that the fund was a public charitable trust and was governed by its own registered deed of trust, which doesn’t receive any budgetary support or any government money.