SC judgment on PM-CARES fund is 'body blow to transparency and accountability', says Congress

The court let go of an opportunity to bring in transparency, and thereby deviated from the belief that 'sunlight is the best disinfectant', Randeep Surjewala said

Press Trust of India August 18, 2020 20:39:07 IST
SC judgment on PM-CARES fund is 'body blow to transparency and accountability', says Congress

New Delhi: The Congress said the Supreme Court's judgement on the PM-CARES Fund on Tuesday was a "body blow to transparency and accountability" of the government to the people and wondered why the ruling party was against openness.

Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the apex Court let go an opportunity to bring in transparency in the fund which has "its own opaque and murky rules" and, thereby, deviated from the belief that "sunlight is the best disinfectant".

The Supreme Court has refused to direct the Centre to transfer the contributions made to the PM CARES Fund for battling the COVID-19 pandemic to the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF), saying these are entirely different funds with separate object and purpose.

Reacting to the verdict, Surjewala said, "The SC judgment is a body blow to transparency & accountability of Govt to people. It marks a sad letter day for responsibility and answerability of rulers to the electorate."

"SC scrupulously believed that ''sunlight is the best disinfectant''. Today, the Court, in a departure from that tradition, passed up an opportunity to demand answers on the #PMCaresFund that seeks public money but plays by its own opaque & murky rules," he said in another tweet.

Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera said the judgement was disappointing and a jolt to those advocating transparency.

He said the money collected under the PM-CARES Fund does not belong to any individual, but to the prime minister of India and every Indian has the right to know where the money is coming from and where it is being spent.

"We are very disappointed with the judgment," he said at a virtual press conference.

"After all, it is the right of each and every Indian to know. This money belongs to India and for Indians. Why should Narendra Modi conceal and block transparency? Why is Narendra Modi scared of openness and transparency," Khera said on the verdict.

"I'm sure there is something to hide, therefore you want to hide. If there is nothing to hide, why would you hide," he asked.

Rubbishing the Congress' criticism on the issue, BJP leader and Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told a press conference that "transparency is writ large" on the PM-CARES Fund.

NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation, in its plea before the Supreme Court, had sought a direction that all the money collected under the PM CARES Fund for the COVID-19 pandemic should be transferred to the NDRF.

Rejecting the submissions of the NGO, a bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan said that voluntary contribution can always be made to the NDRF as there is no statutory bar under the Disaster Management Act.

BJP president JP Nadda described the Supreme Court decision as a "resounding blow to the nefarious designs" of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and his "band of rent a cause" activists.

"The country very well knows that the orchestrated smear campaign against PM-CARES is an attempt by the Congress to wash off its sins," he said.

In March, the Centre set up the Prime Minister's Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM-CARES) Fund with the primary objective to deal with any kind of emergency situation like the one currently posed by the COVID-19 outbreak and provide relief to those affected.

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