The Supreme Court on Wednesday has issued notice to Central Government on a plea seeking transfer of all funds from PM CARES Funds to National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF).
A three judge bench comprising Justice Ashok Bhushan, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice MR Shah was hearing a petition filed by Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) seeking setting up of a National Plan under the Disaster Management Act (DM Act).
The petitioner organization has prayed that all present and future collections, contributions, and grants for the fight against COVID-19 should be credited towards the National Disaster Relief Fund in accordance with Section 46(1)(b)of the DM Act.
CPIL has further sought directions to the Union of lndia to prepare, notify and implement a National Plan under Section 11 read with Section 10 of the DM Act to deal with the current pandemic and to lay down minimum standards of relief, under Section 12 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, to be provided to persons affected by the COVID-19 virus, as well as by the resultant national lockdown.
The petitioner has further pointed out that the latest National Plan uploaded on the website of National Disaster Management Authority is of the year 2019 and the same does not comprehensively deal with situations arising out of the current pandemic and has no mention of measures like lockdown, containment zones, social distancing in it.
Hence, the petitioner has submitted that “the National Plan should provide inter alia proper and detailed mechanism for any future lockdown measures, detailed coordination mechanism between Centre and States, social distancing norms keeping in mind the predicaments of the lower strata of the society, least disruption of public transports and essential activities, large scale ramping up of quarantine facilities along with rapid manufacturing of testing and PPE kits and all this needs to be done transparently.”
On the non mandatory CAG Audit of the PM CARES Fund the CPIL has submitted that Centre has been refraining from divulging information about the specific utilization of crores of rupees that have been contributed/ donated to the PM-CARES Fund till date.
The petitioner has therefore urged the Court to direct the Centre to utilize NDRF for the purpose of providing assistance in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic in compliance with Section 46 of the DM Act, and the entire fund collected in the PM CARES Fund till date may be directed to be transferred to the NDRF.
-India Legal Bureau