New Delhi: The Supreme Court will hear on Friday an appeal against the Calcutta high court’s order dismissing a writ petition challenging the West Bengal government’s decision to give Rs 10,000 each to every Durga Puja committee in the state, involving disbursement of Rs 28 crores.
A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and K.M. Joseph agreed to list the appeal on Friday on a “mention” made by advocate P.V. Dinesh about the order passed by the high court on October 10.
The petitioner, Sourav Dutta, in his special leave petition submitted that the high court had failed to appreciate that there is no public purpose involved in organising Durga Puja, rather it is a religious programme. In terms of the decision, all 3,000 Durga Puja committees in Kolkata and 25,000 across the state will get Rs 10,000 each. The high court had rejected the petition observing that the issue in question fell within the realm of the Legislature and that the court could not interfere.
Assailing this order, the SLP said the statement of the chief minister Mamata Banerjee itself shows that there is no public purpose particularly when she has clarified that the said grant is being extended to the puja organisers on account of gift from the state. 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 violated the provision of Article 282 of the Constitution, he argued.
The appellant argued that there is no provision of law by which the state exchequer could be utilised for giving gift to puja organisers. The high court failed to appreciate that the state fund, which consist payment of various taxes by citizens, cannot be utilised for any religious purpose. Use of tax-payers’ money for repair/restructuring/construction of any “religious place” offends the sprit and object of Article 27 of the Constitution, he said.
Further, the Constitution prohibited the state from compelling any person to pay any tax, proceeds of which is to be spent for the promotion of any particular religion or religious denomination.
Therefore, the decision of the state relating to grant for organising Durga Puja is unconstitutional and is liable to be set aside, he said and prayed for quashing the high court order.