Some in the opposition parties claimed that Sunil Kumar Gupta, who heads SARC & Associates which was appointed as the auditor of the PM’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF) in 2019, is close to the top BJP leadership.
Trustees of the PM CARES Fund
have appointed SARC & Associates as auditor of the fund. Its website pmcares.gov.in says trustees of the fund, which is called Prime Minister’s Citizens Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM CARES) Fund, appointed “SARC & Associates, Chartered Accountants, New Delhi, as the auditors” for three years.
The decision was taken by the trustees to appoint this firm as “independent auditors” during the fund’s second meeting on April 23, the updated FAQs (frequently asked questions) on the website states.
The firm, headed by Sunil Kumar Gupta, was appointed auditors
of the PM’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF) in 2019.
parties have questioned how the PM CARES Fund
is being kept out of the audit purview of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG). The government has maintained that the fund will be audited by an “independent auditor”.
However, as news
of the trustees having appointed Gupta’s firm as its auditor became public, some in the opposition
parties claimed that he is close to the top BJP leadership. The updated FAQs state that “there is no statutory period prescribed for audit of the PM CARES under the Income Tax Act.
However, audit will be conducted at the end of the financial year.”
According to the FAQs, the Prime Minister, as chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the fund, has the power to nominate three trustees to the board. They shall be eminent persons in the field of research, health, science, social work, law, public administration or philanthropy.
However, no such appointment has been made so far, it states.
The fund is administered on an honorary basis by a joint secretary (administration) in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) who is secretary to the fund. He is assisted on honorary basis by an officer of the rank of director/deputy secretary (administration) in the PMO, the FAQs state.The PMO
provides administrative and secretarial support to the trustees for management and administration of the trust, as may be required by the trustees. The head office of the fund is The PMO, South Block, New Delhi, the FAQs state.
The FAQs also add that, so far, Rs 3,100 crore has been allocated from the fund — Rs 2,000 crore for supply of 50,000 ‘Made-in India’ ventilators to government hospitals run by the Centre, or states and union territories, Rs 1,000 crore for the care of migrant labourers and Rs 100 crore for vaccine development.
The Delhi High Court has a petition filed before it seeking that the fund be declared a public authority under the Right to Information Act. This was after the PMO
refused to answer RTI queries about the fund. The government has opposed the petition on the basis of maintainability. The matter will be heard in August.