The Prime Minister's Office told the Bombay High Court that there are no restrictions on the use of the Prime Minister's name and photo, the images of the national flag and the emblem for the PM Cares Fund or the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund (PMNRF) since both are chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"I further say that Flag Code of India, 2002 which brings together all laws, conventions, practices, and instructions regarding display of the National Flag provides that there shall be no restriction on the display of the National Flag by members of the general public, private organizations, educational institutions, etc, except to the extent provided in the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950," the affidavit added.
The affidavit was filed by Pradeep Srivastava, Under Secretary at the Prime Minister's Office, in response to a plea that sought the removal of the Prime Minister's name and photo along with the images of the national flag and emblem from the PM Cares Fund and PMNRF.
In the five-page affidavit, Srivastava clarified that the Prime Minister is the chairperson (ex officio) of the PM Cares Fund and the Minister of Defence, Minister of Home Affairs, Minister of Finance are ex officio trustees of the Fund. All trustees of the PM Cares Fund act in a pro bono capacity. The composition of the Board of Trustees consisting of holders of public office ex officio is merely for administrative convenience and for the smooth succession to the trusteeship, he added.
The Bombay High Court on Tuesday was hearing a plea filed by Congress leader Vikrant Chavan seeking the removal of the PM's photo from the trust deed and the official website for violating the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950 Act. The plea also suggested that according to the Fund's trust deed, it appeared that the incumbent Board of Trustees were appointed in their personal capacity. Chavan alleged that the terms and conditions empowered the Prime Minister to replace the trustees at his discretion.
However, the matter was adjourned when the court was informed about the Additional Solicitor General's ill-health.
The PM CARES Fund was constituted on March 28, 2020 days after the Centre announced a nationwide lockdown. The fund was set up as a public charitable trust with the primary objective of handling any kind of COVID-19-related emergency or distress situation.
The PMNRF is older, having been set up in 1948 as a means to collect donations for refugees and later to help with other calamities. The Prime Minister is solely responsible for the disbursal of funds.
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