Disposing of the application on May 29, the Public Information Officer of PMO said: “PM CARES Fund is not a public authority under the ambit of Section 2(h) of the RTI Act, 2005. However, relevant information in respect of PM CARES Fund may be seen on the website pmcares.gov.in”.
But copies of the trust deed, and the government orders/notifications relating to the PM CARES Fund are not seen uploaded in the official website of the fund.
Harsha has been quoted as saying that he will be filing statutory appeal against this decision of PMO.
"By denying PM CARES fund the status of 'public authority', it is only reasonable to infer that it is not controlled by the government.
If that is the case, who is controlling it? The name, composition of the trust, control, usage of emblem, government domain name everything signifies that it is a public authority.
By simply ruling that it’s not a public authority and denying the application of RTI Act, the government has constructed walls of secrecy around it. This is not just about lack of transparency and denying the application of the RTI Act to the fund, we should also be worried about how the fund is being operated.
For a trust which is created and run by 4 cabinet ministers in their ex-officio capacities, denying the status of ‘public authority’ is a big blow to transparency and not to mention our democratic values,” Harsha added .
What is ‘public authority’ under RTI?
As per Section 2(h) of the RTI Act, “public authority” means any authority or body or institution of self-government established or constituted,—
(a) by or under the Constitution;
(b) by any other law made by Parliament;
(c) by any other law made by State Legislature;
(d) 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.