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Mahua Moitra’s viral speech in the Lok Sabha on PM CARES: Emperor, where are your clothes?  

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The Taxation and Other Laws (Relaxation and Amendment of Certain Provisions) Bill, 2020 is deeply problematic because an insidious objective of this Bill is to give a blanket clearance with no accountability whatsoever to the PM CARES Fund.

The origin of this fund is not only steeped in opacity but rips apart the fabric of federalism and is inherently discriminatory in nature. I was among the first petitioners in the Supreme Court against the discriminatory nature of the fund – but the bench in its wisdom, while not dismissing my petition on merits asked me to bring it up in parliament. So here I am, wondering how an issue of constitutionality that should have attracted judicial review is now instead being debated in this august house.

The government issued a circular on March 28, 2020 notifying that all contributions to the PM CARES Fund qualified as eligible CSR expenditure under Item No. (viii) of Schedule VII of the Companies Act, 2013. But it disqualified contributions made to the ‘state relief funds’ from being treated as valid CSR activities, despite the same being expressly permissible under Schedule VII of the Act of 2013. Items (i) and (xii) under Schedule VII specifically permit companies to fund activities pertaining to the promotion of health care and preventive health care and disaster management and relief efforts.

This unequal treatment of the state and central relief funds is in violation of Article 14 of the Constitution. Unfair treatment of identical contributions to the state relief funds is against public interest and public policy. It completely disincentivises corporate contributions which the state governments would have otherwise received. It creates an unfair, unjust and discriminatory distinction against the ‘state’ and ‘chief minister’s relief funds’ in favour of........

© National Herald

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