SC refuses to block Bengal funding of Durga Puja committees

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New Delhi, Oct. Oct 12 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Friday refused to interfere with the West Bengal government’s decision to grant Rs 10,000 each to 28,000 community Durga Puja committees in the state but sought its response to a plea challenging the “gift” of Rs 28 crore for religious activity from the state exchequer.

“Issue notice, no stay,” said a bench of Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta as the Bengal government told the court that the money was being given by the police to the committees registered with it and these committees will have to account for the expenditure.

At the outset, the court inquired: “How you are doing for yourself?”

As the counsel for the petitioners Sourav Dutta and D. Banerjee wondered how the state could make such allocation being described as “gift”, Kapil Sibal, appearing for the West Bengal government, said the money was being disbursed by the police to registered Puja committees.

The senior counsel said the payments were being made through cheques and would be accounted for.

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

The petitioners challenged an October 10 order of the Calcutta High Court dismissing the plea against the grant of Rs 28 crore to Puja organising committees in the state.



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