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NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday rejected a plea seeking directions to transfer money from PM CARES Fund, created to tackle the covid-19 crisis, to the National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF).

The court held that donations made under both the funds were voluntary contribution and the Centre had the liberty to transfer the funds to NDRF in case it deems appropriate.

Senior advocate, Dushyant Dave, representing petitioner Prashant Bhushan, had sought directions to the government to prepare and implement a national plan as per the provisions prescribed under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, to tackle the damage caused by the covid-19 pandemic.

The bench headed by Ashok Bhushan formulated five questions with respect to the plea, including whether the Centre can set up separate funds despite NDRF in place and whether all contributions/grants should be credited to NDRF from PM CARES.

The bench, comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and MR Shah, had reserved the judgment on 27 July.

“We have held that the plan which was prepared by government under NDRF was sufficient even for Covid 19," said the three-judge bench.

The court said, to tackle covid, no fresh action plan was required as the plan under NDRF was sufficient. The bench asserted that the Center can utilize NDRF funds for covid relief.

The bench said anybody could contribute to PM CARES and there was no statutory prohibition in place which prevented contributions to NDRF. As long as it is a voluntary contributions, the grants can be credited to NDRF.

The bench also observed that the Centre was at liberty to transfer the funds to NDRF in case it deems it appropriate

As per the petition, the creation of PM Cares is not within the scope of the Act. It also contended that despite the ongoing health crises, the NDRF is not being fully utilised.

Alleging lack of transparency in the PM Cares Fund, the petitioner had submitted that the fund was neither subjected to a CAG audit nor comes within the purview of the Right to Information Act, 2005. The petitioner had claimed that the transfer of the PM Cares funds to NDRF would bring it under the provisions of the Disaster Management Act.

(Story to be updated once the judgment is uploaded)

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