By Sharvari Lohakare
Last month, an RTI application was made by one Harsh Kandukuri, asking for information regarding the constitution of the Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief Emergency Situation Fund (PM CARES FUND). This RTI application sought details related to the creation and operation of PM CARES FUND. On May 29, the application was rejected stating that PM CARES FUND is not a ‘public authority’ under Section 2(h) of the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act). The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has refused to reveal any information sought in the application filed under RTI Act.
The applicant is a Bengaluru based law student who applied to seek the copies of the trust deed of PM CARES FUND and all Government orders, notifications and circulars relating to its creation and operation. The Public Information Officer of PMO disposed the application off and explained that only the relevant information in respect of PM CARES FUND may be seen on the website pmcares.gov.in. However, the copies of all the documents sought by the applicant are not yet uploaded on the above mentioned official website.
- How ‘public authority’ is defined under RTI?
According to Section 2(h) of the Right to Information Act, ‘public authority’ is any authority or body or institution of self government established or constituted –
- By or under the Constitution
- By any other law made by Parliament
- By any other law made by State Legislature
- By notification issued or order made by the appropriate government
The definition of ‘public authority’ also includes bodies owned, controlled or substantially financed by the government and non-governmental organizations substantially financed, directly or indirectly by funds provided by the appropriate Government.
The applicant has intimated the will to file a statutory appeal against the decision given by PMO. He has also expressed serious concerns questioning the transparency and flawed operation of the fund as the office denied revealing any information related to the formation of the trust.