New Delhi: Saket Gokhale, the former journalist who now works as a social activist, filed an intervention application before the Supreme Court in connection with the suo motu cognisance case on COVID-19 and pleaded the apex court that PM Cares Fund be made a respondent in this case.
The petitioner, Saket Gokhale, in his intervention application filed before the top court seeking a direction to clarify the details about the current status of the PM Cares Fund and its links with the Government of India. His petition also sought a direction to furnish the details about PM Cares Funds allocated and progress made towards COVID-19 relief and the status of the sanctioned projects.
Gokhale, in his petition, contended that the PM CARES Fund is a non-governmental stakeholder that has been closely involved in decisions and projects that have been closely related to the distribution and supplies of essentials in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic albeit through the Government of India.
For this reason, the petitioner contended in his petition that the PM CARES Fund must be made a respondent in the present case and asked to submit details pertaining to its COVID-19 relief-related projects and their present status.
He, therefore, prayed to the Supreme Court that the Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund (PM CARES Fund) be made a respondent in the present case, and sought a direction to clarify details about the current status of the Fund and its links with the Govt of India.
“The only information available in the public domain about allocations from PM CARES Fund comes from statements and press releases issued by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). It is unclear whether, in addition to the allocations declared publicly, there have been other allocations made towards other COVID-19 related expenditure,” Gokhale said in his petition.
He also said that on the issue of vaccines, the Union of India (UOI) has submitted to the apex court in the present case that no money was allocated or spent by the Government of India towards COVID-19 vaccine development.
Gokhale thereby said that hence, the Government has no control over deciding the pricing of the vaccines. However, PM CARES Fund itself has declared an allocation of around Rs 100 crore towards vaccine development and it is unclear whether any additional funds were allocated for the same purpose for which information was not made available in the public domain.
Gokhale, therefore, in his petition, clearly claimed to establish that PM CARES Fund has played a major role in matters related to supplies, distribution, and making available resources needed for fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Indeed, the genesis of the PM CARES Fund itself was to establish a fund separate from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF) which is solely dedicated to COVID-19 and other pandemic relief.
Under the present circumstances, it is important that PM CARES Fund make available all information to the Supreme Court on the various allocations it has made towards fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and how it has monitored the progress of projects to which monetary allocations were made, the petition said.