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Calcutta HC quashes plea challenging grant of money to Durga puja committees

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee during the inauguration of the Durga Puja festival in Kolkata on Tuesday.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee during the inauguration of the Durga Puja festival in Kolkata on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: PTI

The Calcutta High Court on Wednesday refused to entertain a public interest litigation petition challenging the West Bengal government’s decision to allocate ₹10,000 to 28,000 community Durga puja committees.

The development comes as a major relief to the government as the court had issued a stay on the disbursement of the money on October 5.

“We are not inclined to entertain the petition at this stage,” a Division Bench of acting Chief Justice Debasish Kar Gupta and Justice Sampa Sarkar said.

The court observed that after going through materials on record, its considered view was that the Legislature is the ultimate forum to decide on the nature of expenditure incurred by the State government. The court can intervene only at a later stage, the Bench said.

The court order noted the arguments presented by Advocate General Kishore Datta that the grant to community Durga Pujs is for promoting community policing under the Safe Drive and Save Life campaign and not for any religious purpose.

During the course of the hearing, Mr. Datta presented documents, indicating the creation of a new head for grants to puja committees by the Finance Department

Against constitutional provisions, say6s counsel

Petitioners counsel Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya argued that giving money for a religious event from the public exchequer is against constitutional provisions.

The Bench also noted the arguments made by Saktinath Mukherjee, senior counsel representing the State, who tried to impress on the court that as per the Westminster System of Parliamentary Government, financial management is part of the executive and the judiciary cannot interfere in this matter.

On September 10, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee made the announcement of allocating ₹ 10,000 to 3,000 Durga puja commitees in Kolkata and 25,000 in other parts of the State.

On the court’s query as to how the puja committees have been selected, the Advocate General said that all those committees which had either obtained permission from the police or had applied for permission for organising Durga pujas will be allocated the grant.

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Printable version | Sep 20, 2020 12:06:10 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/calcutta-hc-quashes-plea-challenging-grant-to-durga-puja-committees/article25177416.ece

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