KOCHI: Expressing concern over crowdfunding by several people for the treatment of children who suffer from rare diseases, the Kerala High Court on Friday held that the state should have some control over the fundraising.
"There are different persons including YouTubers raising funds. Money is being collected by them for treatment purposes. Rs 18 crores has been collected within one or two days. Where is the money going? From where is the money coming? Who collected the amount? What is the balance? Is there any control or monitoring by the state over this collection of money," Justice PB Suresh Kumar asked when a petition urging government assistance for importing a drug to treat a six-month-old child suffering from rare genetic deceases came up for hearing. "I do not want every Tom, Dick and Harry to collect money," said the court.
"When the Kerala government has started collecting money for providing free vaccines, it got only Rs 68 lakhs whereas Rs 18 crores was collected within seven days by some people. What is the magic behind it," observed the court. It also directed the government to inform it about the provisions to control crowdfunding in the state.
The court made it clear that it is not interdicting the crowdfunding but only cautioning the government to have some control over it. "YouTubers can promote the campaign for raising funds. Let the money come to the government platform. Why should they be collecting money through their account? Some YouTubers started arguments in public about the balance amount," pointed out the court.
The court pointed that the state government has not so far evolved any policy in connection with crowdfunding. The people cannot just be permitted to collect money. There should be some sort of control by the government. "The public shall not be taken for a ride. If any mismanagement or allegations come out, the public will not provide help in future," observed the court.
The government pleader submitted that some media firms, YouTubers and social media activists have started crowdfunding. Hence, the intervention of the State Police Chief will also be required to find out the source of the funds being collected by different persons and to know the operators of the account. The court said it will suo motu implead the State Police Chief in the case.
The court then asked whether the money is coming solely for the treatment or is it going elsewhere also? The government pleader pointed out the "We Care" project which was initiated by the Kerala government to provide financial assistance to the needy. The court observed that if the government has a platform, then the money will be collected by the government.
An advocate, who filed a similar plea seeking government assistance, pointed out that the We Care project is not effective and should be implemented in a proper manner. If the court interdicted crowdfunding, it will affect children who are seeking support. The court replied that it is not interdicting the crowdfunding, only asking the government to monitor it.