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The petitioner has also urged the Court to direct that, of the three Trust Board members yet to be appointed, two members should be appointed from opposition parties in the interest of maintaining a check and balance.
A PIL has been moved before the Bombay High Court by a lawyer urging for directions to disclose the exact amount of collected by the Prime Ministers Citizens Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM CARES) fund for COVID-19 relief.
The plea filed by Advocate Arvind K Waghmare asserts,
The petitioner has moved the High Court with the following prayers, i.e.
Directions to the Government authorities and authorities of the Fund to appoint/nominate the three members of the Trust Board yet to be appointed.
Of these trustees, it is urged that at least two trustees should be from opposition parties in the interest of transparency, to have a proper check and balance and to strengthen the confidence of the general pubic.
Direct that the PM CARES fund should be compulsorily audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India instead of independent auditors as decided by the concerned board of trustees of the PM Cares Fund
Declare the funds received by PM CARES, whether domestically or from overseas.
Direct that regular updates on donations received for the PM CARES fund be made, as also the expenditure incurred form the said account on official websites every 7 days.
Whereas the Central Government on Tuesday opposed the maintainability of the PIL, citing that a similar plea was recently junked by the Supreme Court, the High Court has asked that a reply affidavit be filed in the matter in two weeks.
The Bench of Justices SB Shukre and AS Kilor directed the same after noting that the prayers made in the matter before them were different. Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh appeared for the Centre.
The petitioner has registered concern that three members of the Trust Board meant to oversee and administer the PM CARES funds are yet to be appointed/ nominated.
It is also pointed out that while there are reports that about Rs 6,500 crores were collected within 7 days, and speculations that the amount now collected would stand between Rs 50,000 crores and Rs 100,000 crores, the concerned authorities have not yet declared in the public domain the exact figure of funds mobilised or how they are being spent.
Apart from a disclosure of funds, the petitioner has also urged that the fund should be audited through the Comptroller and Auditor General of India to ensure that the country's citizens do not lose their confidence and trust in Constitutional Institutions.
The petitioner also raises grievance over the sorry state of affairs presently prevailing in the country, while referring to the migrant crises brought about with the COVID-19 lockdown, despite lakhs and crores of rupees having been collected in the PM CARES fund.
In this regard, it is also noted that the WHO Asian Development Bank had granted a USD 1.5 billion loan to India for combating the COVID-19 pandemic.
The petitioner has also emphasised that he is not questioning the creation of the fund or the transfer of funds to a Government-run account or calling for a probe into the same. Rather, it is stated, "the petitioner in person is (seeking to) repose faith in the said fund (by) asking for certain direction in order to have transparency in the affairs of the said high profile national dedicated fund called as 'PM Cares Fund.'"