Bombay High Court rejects PIL on PM CARES fund
The Bombay High Court on Thursday rejected the public interest litigation (PIL), demanding appointment of three trustees, including two from opposition parties as per the scheme, to manage Prime Minister’s Citizens Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund (PM CARES Fund).
The Nagpur bench of the High Court also turned down a request made by petitioner Arvind Waghmare to remove private auditing firm M/s SAARC Associates. Waghmare had also demanded a declaration of the utilisation of money deposited in the fund.
A division bench of the high court, consisting Justice Sunil Shukre and Justice Anil Kilor, pronounced its verdict on Thursday morning and dismissed the petition on all the three counts. The bench found no merit in any of the pleas made by Waghmare expressing reservation about the existing mechanism.
The petitioner, Waghmare, has appeared in person and sought a proper audit of PM CARE’s fund, the appointment of three trustees as per the scheme of the fund. He also demanded the declaration of money collected so far and its utilization.
The PM Cares Fund was formed on March 28 this year in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. The petitioner lawyer also claimed to have contributed to it.
“This is not a personal fund of any political party,” he claimed while seeking the appointment of leaders belonging to opposition parties to make the functioning of the fund more transparent and inclusive.
Additional Solicitor General of India, Anil Singh had sought the dismissal of the PIL filed by Waghmare and stated that the Supreme Court had already rejected the petition last week with detailed reasons. Singh added that most of the issues agitated in this PIL have been covered by the apex court’s ruling.
The Centre strongly opposed the petition and dubbed it as politically motivated while doubting the intentions of the petition. The prime minister is the ex-officio chairman of the trust formed to manage the funds and senior ministers are ex-officio members. About the remaining three trustees, the petitioner had sought the appointment of opposition leaders as trustees. The Centre had made it clear that the prime minister had the discretion to appoint any three eminent persons and such a prayer was not legally tenable.