Delhi HC Pulls Up Centre for Filing One-Page Response to PIL on PM Cares Fund
Samyak Gangwal filed a petition last year to declare the fund as the 'State' under the Constitution.
"Only one page reply to such an important issue? There is just one page reply of one Mr Pradeep Kumar, nothing beyond that? Such an important issue and only one page reply is there [sic]," Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma said, according to Bar and Bench.
A bench of Chief Justice Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad then directed the government to file a "detailed and exhaustive" response to the public interest litigation (PIL).
The case will now be heard on 16 September.
Samyak Gangwal, represented by senior advocate Shyam Divan, filed the said petition last year to ensure transparency in the function of PM Cares Fund.
The 'State', under Article 12 of the Constitution, includes:
Government and Parliament of India
Government and the Legislature of each of the states
all local or other authorities within the territory of India
or under the control of the Government of India
'Proper Response Necessary, Issue Not Simple'
The court said that a proper response was necessary for it to pass an order in each and every argument raised by advocate Divan. It added that irrespective of the decision, the issue would go to the Supreme Court.
Divan told the judges that although opportunities had been given to the Centre to file its reply, the Union had chosen to remain silent and drag the matter on, Bar and Bench reported.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, in response, said that there had been no dragging and that the Centre would file a detailed response within four weeks.
What Is the Petition About?
Gangwal, in his petition, argued that citizens of the country were deeply distressed over the fund not being under government control.
The petition said that the trustees of the fund were the prime minister, defence minister, home minister, and the finance minister themselves. He contended that the authorities, nevertheless, projected the fund as the 'State', with the use of the State emblem and a 'gov.in' portal conveying official sanction.
He sought to direct the government to either declare the fund as the 'State' or broadcast that the PM CARES Fund was not the Government of India's, thereby restraining it from using 'Prime Minister of India', 'Prime Minister', or 'PM' in its name, on its website, trust deed, and other official or unofficial communications and advertisements, PTI reported.
He filed another petition to declare PM CARES as a 'public authority' under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. Both petitions are being heard together.
(With inputs from Bar and Bench and PTI.)
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