The Supreme Court Friday issued a notice to the West Bengal government on a petition challenging the latter’s decision to grant Rs 28 crore to 28,000 Durga Puja committee across the state. The court, however, refused to interfere with the decision, saying the amount must be distributed only through the state police.
A bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta passed the order while hearing an urgent petition by advocate Sourav Dutta, challenging the Calcutta High Court’s decision to not intervene in the case. In its appeal, Dutta said the High Court had “failed to appreciate that there is no public purpose involved in organising Durga Puja rather it is a religious programme”.
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.
“Since no public purpose would be served by granting money and/or handing out concessions to Durga Puja organisers, the said decision of the state violates the provision of Article 282 of the Constriction of Indian and thus, the said decision of granting money to the puja committees is liable to be set aside,” the plea had said, adding that “there is no provision of law by which state exchequer could be utilised for giving gift to puja organiser”.
The Constitution prohibits the state from compelling any person to lay any tax, proceeds of which is to be spent for the promotion of any particular religion or religious denomination, it said.