‘Non-govt’ PM CARES Fund uses govt resources, website domain

A recent communication under the RTI Act revealed that the domain name pmcares.gov.in was allocated to the PMO by the updated “guidelines for allocation of registration at the third level under GOV.IN domain zone”

The Central government has on several occasions maintained that the Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund (PM CARES Fund) is a non-government entity. However, several instances highlight how the “public charitable trust” has been actively promoted and controlled by the Government of India.

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PM CARES was established on 27 March 2020 as a financial aid pool for dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic in India. The Centre recently told the Delhi High Court that PM CARES Fund was set up as a charitable trust and “it was not permissible to disclose third party information” pertaining to it.

Developed by NIC

Besides the Centre and Indian embassies abroad actively promoting the fund in their official capacities, its website pmcares.gov.in has been developed using the National Informatics Centre (NIC) resources and ‘gov.in’ domain reserved for government websites.

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PM CARES’ official website’s IP address ( falls under the range of government websites with IP addresses “164.100.xx.xx”, authorised by NIC with gov.in extension. The domains developed by NIC come with rigid eligibility criteria, which is usually reserved for Prime Minister’s Office, and offices of President, and Vice-President, and other government initiatives.

However, an affidavit filed by the under-secretary of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) in Delhi High Court earlier this year states: “This (PM CARES) trust is neither intended to be nor is owned, controlled or substantially financed by the government or any instrumentality of the government. There is no control of either the Central government or any state governments, either direct or indirect, in functioning of the trust in any manner whatsoever.”

Although it began as a government initiative developed using government resources and authority that shows adherence to structured governmental procedure, yet PM CARES is a ‘non-government’ entity. For credibility, it even uses the discretion of the State Emblem of India, save procedural ambiguity.

PM’s personal website

Take, for instance, the personal, private website of PM Narendra Modi www.narendramodi.in with IP address The website doesn’t carry the ‘gov.in’ extension or the State Emblem of India. It’s registered as a commercial IP associated with USA-based Akamai Technologies.

A recent communication under the Right to Information (RTI) Act revealed that the domain name pmcares.gov.in has been allocated to the PMO by the updated “guidelines for allocation of registration at the third level under GOV.IN domain zone” issued on 23 October 2019 by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY).

Dedicated ‘national’ fund

The RTI application was filed by Rajya Sabha MP Saket Gokhale in March 2020, asking for details on the trust running the PM CARES Fund. Until then, the website ‘about us’ page described the site as “a dedicated national fund.”

Subsequently, several others filed RTI applications sought more details. Soon the description was changed in December 2020 by removing the word ‘national’ and the description was changed to “a dedicated fund.” It also added, “PM CARES Fund has been registered as a Public Charitable Trust. The trust deed of PM CARES Fund has been registered under the Registration Act, 1908 at New Delhi on 27 March 2020.”

The vaccines procured using ₹1,392 crore from PM CARES funds until March 2021, supposedly meant for domestic relief, were used to further ‘India’s foreign relations’. As that time, less than 3% of Indians were vaccinated.

Rajya Sabha MP Saket Gokhale recently posted an RTI communication on X: He wrote: “According to the 2021 financials released by PM CARES Fund, ₹1,392 crores were spent by the fund to procure 6.6 cr vaccines. Interestingly, under the “Vaccine Maitri” programme, India gifted about 6 crore vaccines to other countries (sic).”


Recently, a petition filed by Samyak Gangwal in Delhi High Court demanded that the PM-CARES Fund be declared as ‘The State’ under Article 12 of the constitution, The Wire reported.

The petition expresses deep concern over the fact that, although the Prime Minister and other Union ministers are designated as trustees of the fund, the government has consistently asserted that it lacks control over it.

On Wednesday, October 6, senior advocate Shyam Divan, representing the petitioner, pointed out various instances in which the vice-president, the defence ministry, and high-ranking government officials, in their communications and appeals to employees and the general public, have referred to the Fund as a “national fund” and one “established by the Government of India” to address distressing situations.

Representing Centre, an under-secretary at the PMO submitted that “irrespective of whether the trust is a “State” or other authority within the meaning of Article 12 of the Constitution of India and or whether it is a ‘public authority’ within the meaning of section 2[h] of Right to Information Act, Section 8 in general and that of provisions contained in sub section [e] and [j], in particular, of the Right to Information Act, it is not permissible to disclose third party information”.


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