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The Court today asked the lead petitioner to either withdraw the petition or face a fine.
A Supreme Court Bench led by Justice NV Ramana today observed that the plea raising questions about the PM Cares Fund and various Chief Minister Relief Funds specially set up to deal with the COVID-19 crisis, had a "political colour to it."
Therefore, the Court today asked the lead petitioner, Advocate Shaswat Anand, to either withdraw the petition or face a fine.
The PIL moved by Advocates Shaswat Anand, Ankur Azad and Faiz Ahmed, and law student Sagar had stated that only testing suspected cases of COVID-19 will not help in containing the spread of the deadly Coronavirus. The petition reads,
"Due to exponential community spread of the most contagious and deadly coronavirus (COVID-19) cannot be put in check only by test of suspected COVID-19 infected persons, unless mass COVID-19 tests are carried out of public generally to trace people infected by COVID-19, to isolate and treat them."
Filed on April 10, the petition had urged the Court to direct the Government of India to ensure "mass house-to-house tests at the COVID-19 hotspots most severely affected so as to avoid the spread of COVID-19 from the limits of such places into the public at large."
This direction has been sought on the basis of the petitioners' claim that the current approach of testing people for COVID-19 is "inadequate and insufficient."
The plea also questions the need to create a dedicated PM Cares Fund and several State CM Relief Funds, when the National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF) and the State Disaster Relief Fund (SDRF) were formed in 2005 after the National Disaster Management Act was brought into force.
In this regard, the petition had stated,
"The creation of separate public charitable trusts by the Central/State Government(s) only tends to maim, weaken and paralyze the 2005 Act and the trusts/funds thereunder, being the NDRF and the SDRF. The creation of non-statutory public charitable trust/fund by Prime Minister and Chief Minsters, being PM-Cares Funds and various CM-Relief Funds and promoting the same, who are also concerned with promoting the statutory funds/trusts being theNDRF/SDRF, is arbitrary, inappropriate, uncalled for, unjustified and impermissible under the public policy and within the scheme of the 2005 Act and in the interests of the public at large, keeping in view the clash of interests among such funds/trusts."
[READ THE ORDER]