New Delhi: The Central Information Commission has allowed the PMO to withhold information on beneficiaries of Prime Minister`s Relief Fund saying assistance given out of this fund cannot be classified as subsidy which needs to be disclosed under the RTI Act.
"We understand that the Prime Minister`s Relief Fund does not receive any budgetary assistance from the central government or from any of the central government public undertakings and is fully made of voluntary donations given by individual citizens or private bodies.
"Therefore, the assistance given out of this fund cannot be classified as subsidy at the same level at which other subsidies are treated," Chief Information Commissioner Satyananda Mishra said.
The case relates to S C Agrawal who sought details of assistance given from the relief fund on the recommendations of the then Speaker of Lok Sabha.
Agrawal argued that anybody who wanted an assistance from a public fund should be prepared to get his name known to the public.
"The fact is that when an individual citizen, often in an indigent condition, seeks assistance from the Prime Minister`s relief fund, he does not expect that this fact would be advertised in the public," Mishra said.
"Had the Prime Minister`s relief fund been created out of funds provided by the central government from out of its budget, the assistance should be treated like any other subsidy and fully covered under the provisions of Section 4(1)(b) of the Right to Information Act and, even, pro-actively disclosed. Here, it is not so," he said.