PMO denies RTI plea seeking information on PM-CARES

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s office has denied giving data related to the PM CARES Fund which was set up in March in the wake of the pandemic. The plea was rejected saying it would “disproportionately divert the resources”, The Hindu reported on Sunday.

This happened notwithstanding a Kerala High Court judgment and multiple orders of the CIC that the reason stated by the prime minister’s office can be only used when asked to change the form of data provided and not to deny it entirely.

PM Cares was set up in March to be a “dedicated national fund” to deal with “any emergency situation”. Opposition parties have asked the need to create it when Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund is already present. They have also expressed doubts about the opaqueness of the fund.

RTI activist Commodore Lokesh Batra filed a plea, seeking details about the number of applications and appeals received and disposed of by Modi’s office each month since April. He also asked the information related to PM CARES and the PM’s National Relief Fund. On August 14, the prime minister’s office replied with the overall info, but refused to divulge data related to the two funds.

“The data sought by you is not maintained in this office,” the head public information officer in the PMO said. “Its collection and compilation would disproportionately divert the resources of this office, thereby attracting the provisions under Section 7(9) of the Act.”

The stated Section in the reply reads: “An information shall ordinarily be provided in the form in which it is sought unless it would disproportionately divert the resources of the public authority or would be detrimental to the safety or preservation of the record in question.”