In a sign of relief to the Mamata Banerjee government, the Calcutta High Court on Wednesday refused to entertain a plea challenging the West Bengal government’s decision to give Rs 10,000 each to 28,000 Durga puja committees in the state.
According to the reports, the court had brought an interim stay to the disbursal of funds on October 5 but the PIL was dismissed on Wednesday by the High Court allowing the state government to disburse funds to the puja committees.
A 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 incurred by the state government.
The High Court also stated that the judiciary does not want to interfere in the government’s decision to disburse funds to Durga puja committees at this stage. However, the bench said that the court can interfere at a later stage when the scope arises.
Advocate General Kishore Dutta argued before the bench that the funds given by the state government are being used for promoting community safety under the Safe Drive and Save Life campaign and not for any religious purpose. Advocate Datta also presented documents, showing the creation of a new head for grants to puja committees by the Finance Department of the West Bengal government.
The petitioner’s counsel had reportedly argued that giving money for a religious event from the public exchequers is against constitutional provisions. He argued that the disbursing of funds to Durga Puja committees was a ‘dole’ and had no public purpose.
The Mamata Banerjee’s government decision to disburse funds to Durga Puja committees faced wrath from Muslim clerics and prominent Imams of the state. The influential Imam of Kolkata, Pirzada Taha Siddiqui of Furfura Sharif has slammed the decision and had organised a rally against the West Bengal government for granting funds to the Hindu Community.
We had earlier reported regarding a group of influential Imams and scholars from across the state, extremely close to the Chief Minister, had taken out a protest rally against the government and demanded hike in stipend to Imams and State funds for at least 10,000 Madrasas across the state.