Supreme Court refuses to stay West Bengal govt.'s decision to grant money to Durga puja panels

On September 10, Ms. Banerjee had declared that ₹10,000 would be given to each of the 28,000 puja committees in the state.

October 12, 2018 12:58 pm | Updated November 28, 2021 08:58 am IST - New Delhi

The Supreme Court on Friday refused to stay a Calcutta High Court order allowing the Mamata Banerjee government’s grant of ₹28 crore to 28,000 Puja committees across West Bengal.

A Bench of Justices Madan B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta, however, directed the West Bengal government, represented by senior advocate Kapil Sibal, to file a counter to the petition filed by Calcutta High Court lawyer Sourav Dutta challenging the grant as an act against secularism. The attitude of the State government was alarming since its actions could encourage communal passion, the petition contended.

It said there was no “public purpose” in organising Durga Puja. The Chief Minister’s statements itself reveals that the grant was a “gift from the State.”

The High Court failed to appreciate that the State fund which consists of various taxes paid by citizens could not be utilised for a religious purpose. “Use of tax-payers’ money for repair/restructuring/construction of any religious place offends the spirit and object of Article 27 (freedom from paying taxes for promotion of any particular religion) of the Constitution,” the petition said.

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