Use of national symbols in PM-CARES Fund in conformity with law: PMO to Bombay HC
Mumbai: The use of the national flag and national emblem in the PM CARES Fund is in conformity with the usage allowed by the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950 and Rules madeunder the enactment, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has said in an affidavit filed in Bombay high court.
The affidavit is filed in response to a public interest litigation challenging the use of the prime minister’s photo, national flag and the national emblem in the PM CARES Fund.
The affidavit stated that the flag is used to the extent permitted to any citizen of the country with some exceptions and there is no violation of the national signs and hence the challenge raised in the PIL cannot be maintained and the reliefs sought in it should not be granted.
According to the PIL filed by Vikrant Chavan, president, Thane District Congress and councilor of Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC), the Trust called PM’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM-CARES) Fund is a non-government organisation and as amounts collected by it does not go to the Consolidated Fund of India, hence sought directions for removal of the name ‘Prime Minister’, the ‘National Flag’ and the ‘Emblem’ from the name of the Trust and its web portal. The PIL stated that as the Trust was a private entity the use of the name and picture of the prime minister, flag and emblem violate the laws and rules governing the said symbols.
Advocate Sagar Joshi for the petitioner had informed HC that as per the Trust Deed, which was executed on March 27, 2020, the PM was the chairman and all the trustees, including union ministers, were appointed in their personal capacity but the trust did not discharge any sovereign functions.
The bench was informed that the trust has collected over ₹3,000 crore for relief work using the name and photograph of the prime minister, national flag and emblem thus flouting the relevant laws and rules governing such national signs and symbols.
The bench had then directed additional solicitor general Anil Singh for the Union government to file an affidavit in reply to the petition.
On Tuesday, the division bench of chief justice Dipankar Datta and justice Makarand Karnik which was hearing the PIL was told that Pradeep Kumar Srivastava, under-secretary, PMO had filed the affidavit. The affidavit denied the claims of the petitioner and challenged the correctness of the contentions.
“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,” states the affidavit.
The affidavit adds that the prime minister is chairperson (ex-officio) of the PM CARES Fund and various ministers are ex-officio trustees of the fund and all of them are in pro bono capacity. 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.
Srivastava has concluded the affidavit stating that the petitioner approached HC without exhausting the administrative remedies available under the concerned laws and rules and hence the petition deserves to be dismissed.
After perusing the affidavit, the bench granted 15-day time for the petitioner to file a rejoinder and posted further hearing after three weeks.
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