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New Delhi, August 18, 2020
The Supreme Court on Tuesday said the funds from the PM-CARES Fund need not be transferred to the National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF) and individuals can voluntarily contribute to the NDRF.
A bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, R. Subhash Reddy and M. R. Shah dismissed a petition seeking transfer of all funds from PM- CARES Fund to the NDRF.
The top court also held that there was no need for a fresh national disaster relief plan for the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and minimum standards of relief issued under the Disaster Management Act were sufficient.
The bench said there is no impediment for citizens and corporates to deposit funds in the NDRF and clarified that the PM-CARES Fund is completely different from the NDRF.
On June 17, the apex court issued notice to the Centre on a PIL seeking to transfer funds from the PM-CARES Fund to the NDRF.
The Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) claimed in the plea that, in the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, the NDRF is not being utilized by the authorities, and establishing the PM-CARES Fund is outside the scope of the Disaster Management Act.
The bench also rejected advocate Prashant Bhushan's plea that Centre should have framed a fresh national disaster management plan for COVID-19, and it should have not relied on the national plan, which was formulated in December 2019, focusing on tackling the biological disaster.