SC refuses to stay Mamata Banerjee's move to give funds to Durga Puja committees, issues notice to West Bengal govt

The Supreme Court on Friday refused to stay the West Bengal government's move to give out funds to various Durga Puja committees for celebrations. The court, however, issued a notice to the state government and sought a detailed affidavit from it within six weeks.

A bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta, was hearing a petition filed by advocate Sourav Dutta challenging the Mamata Banerjee government's decision to dole out Rs 28 crore to 28,000 puja committees in the state for Durga Puja.

Mamata Banerjee inaugurating a Durga Puja pandal in Kolkata. Image courtesy: Twitter/@MamataOfficial

Mamata Banerjee inaugurating a Durga Puja pandal in Kolkata. Image courtesy: Twitter/@MamataOfficial

On September 10, Mamata Banerjee had declared that Rs 10,000 would be given to each of the 28,000 puja committees across the state — 3,000 in the city and 25,000 in the districts, which would cost the government Rs 28 crore.

Further, there is no provision of law by which the state exchequer could be utilised for giving gift to puja organisers, says the petition.

The matter reached the Supreme Court after the Calcutta High Court refused to interfere with the manner in which the Executive utilised government funds.

The high court division bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Debasish Kar Gupta and Justice Sampa Sarkar said that the Legislature is the appropriate forum to decide on expenditure by the state government, Live Law reported.

The petitioners moved the apex court challenging the high court decision, and Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi agreed to admit the plea.

The petitioners Dutta and D. Banerjee - advocate at Calcutta High Court - have contended that the grant of public money goes against the tenets of secularism, which is a basic structure of the Constitution.

Since no public purpose would be served by granting money and/or handing out concessions to Durga Puja organisers, the petitioners have contended that the decision violates the provision of Article 282 of the Constitution and should be set aside. The petitioners argue that using public funds to maintain or repair a place of worship of a particular sect or religion is also against the spirit of Constitution.

The Trinamool Congress government, on the other hand has defended the move stating that the funds will be used for assisting the police under its Traffic Safety Campaign, and not for religious purposes, Bar and Bench reported.

with inputs from agencies


Updated Date: Oct 12, 2018 13:19 PM

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