State's Durga Puja doles challenged in High Court
The state government’s decision to pay Rs 50,000 to every community Durga Puja organiser was challenged in Calcutta High Court on Friday.
A division bench, headed by Justice Sanjib Banerjee, fixed the matter for final hearing on October 14.
An activist associated with the CPM’s labour arm Citu has challenged the legality of the state’s decision.
A PIL has been moved before the same division bench, challenging the legality of the state’s decision to pay Rs 1,000 every month to every Hindu priest (purohit) of Bengal. The court has fixed the matter for hearing in mid-November.
But the court made it clear that priests who have already received the money from the state will have to return it if the order goes against the government’s decision
Last year, the state had paid puja organisers Rs 25,000 and Rs 10,000 the year before. This year, the amount has been raised to Rs 50,000.
While making the announcement, the chief minister had said organisers were reeling under a financial crunch.
Last year, a similar petition had been filed in the high court but the court had declined to issue a stay after the state’s advocate-general Kishore Datta had said the state paid the donation to campaign for its “Safe Drive Save Life” programme through the committees and that the police department paid the amount.
At this, the petitioner had moved the Supreme Court.
The apex court, too, had declined to issue a stay but had said that the state police administration would have to take the responsibility of maintaining accounts of the money paid for the purpose.
On Friday, when senior counsel Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharyya moved the petition, Justice Banerjee asked lawyers from both sides to produce last year’s order of the Supreme Court.
Since the lawyers did not have a copy of the order, the bench adjourned the hearing.