BJP Slams Cong as SC Dismisses Plea for Transfer of PM CARES Funds
The plea seeking transfer of funds was filed by Centre for Public Interest Litigation, headed by Prashant Bhushan.
BJP has unleashed a slew of jibes on the Congress since the Supreme Court on Tuesday, 18 August, said that the PM CARES fund money cannot be directed to be deposited or transferred to the National Disaster Relief Fund, news agency ANI reported.
While disposing of a petition filed in the matter, the apex court also said that there is no need for a fresh national disaster relief plan.
The Supreme Court on 27 July had reserved its order on a plea seeking a direction that the funds received by the PM CARES fund be credited to the National Disaster Relief Fund for tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.
A bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and MR Shah had taken note of the plea by the Centre for Public Interest Litigation, headed by advocate Prashant Bhushan, seeking drawing up of a national COVID plan and raising the issue of existence of PM CARES Fund while an NDRF was already in existence under the Disaster Management Act.
WHAT THE PLEA SOUGHT
The Centre for Public Interest Litigation, in the plea, claimed that against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, the NDRF is not being utilised by the authorities, and establishing the PM CARES fund is outside the scope of the Disaster Management Act.
Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, representing the petitioner had argued that PM CARES fund lacks transparency. He had also questioned why there is no national plan during the time of COVID-19.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing an NGO had argued before the bench on the issues originating in the absence of a national plan to tackle COVID-19 pandemic. Sibal had cited the Constitution's Section 21 regarding a district plan, where minimum requirements regarding water, shelter etc need to be provided. “Where are these standards?” he had asked.
WHAT THE CENTRE ARGUED
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre had argued that the National Disaster Management Plan, from 2019, included biological disaster, as during that time, no one knew about COVID-19. He said Sibal's argument was “factually wrong”.
The Centre had informed the apex court that there are several funds which are either established earlier or now for carrying out various relief works, and PM CARES is one such with voluntary donations.
The affidavit filed by the Ministry of Home Affairs had said, “It is submitted there exists a fund stipulated under section of the DMA (Disaster Management Act) which is called NDR Fund. However, mere existence of a statutory fund would not prohibit the creation of a different fund like PM CARES Fund which provides for voluntary donations.”
The Centre had contended that the petition seeking a direction that the funds received by PM CARES Fund to be credited to NDRF (National Disaster Relief Fund) is neither maintainable on merits nor is maintainable under Article 32 as all funds other than the funds stipulated under section 46 of Disaster Management Act, 2005 are separate, different and distinct, created separately under separate provisions.
On 17 June, the apex court issued notice to the Centre on the PIL seeking to transfer funds from PM CARES Fund to the NDRF.
RESOUNDING BLOW TO CONG: BJP
Reacting to the SC verdict, Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) President JP Nadda said on Monday that it is "a resounding blow" to what he alleged were "nefarious" designs of Congress President Rahul Ganhi.
According to PTI, Nadda also said:
“SC verdict on PM CARES fund shows that truth shines despite ill intent and malicious efforts of Congress, its associates.”
Union Minister and BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad, in his part, alleged that Rahul Gandhi, "never spared any opportunity to weaken the national resolve in the fight against Covid-19,”
“Rahul Gandhi was against lockdown, even made fun of PM’s initiatives like lighting of diyas and banging of utensils or clapping for doctors and nurses. Today, all the countries are adopting similar measures.”Ravi Shankar Prasad
Speaking about the PM Cares fund, Prasad declared that "PM CARES is a registered public trust made under Chairmanship of PM Narendra Modi for emergencies like COVID19 whereas PMNRF was made in 1948 by an oral observation of the then PM to serve the needs to refugees from Pakistan etc."
Prasad also said that negative efforts by the Congress party have been nullified, and alleged that the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation was being run like a family trust and funds for the country were being diverted there.
In his address to the press, Prasad also sought to fortify his attack on former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi by saying:
“The Rajiv Gandhi Foundation did a special study in which it was recommended that Indian markets needs to be opened for Chinese products to make the relationship stronger between India and China.”
Meanwhile, BJP's Biplab Kumar Deb, chief minister of Tripura, took to Twitter to celebrate the Supreme Court verdict, as well.
(With inputs from ANI and IANS.)
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