SC to hear plea challenging WB's Durga Puja grant

SC to hear plea challenging WB's Durga Puja grant

The high court had yesterday refused to interfere in the state government's decision to give Rs 10,000 each to 28,000 Durga puja committees in the state. (PTI file photo)

The Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to hear a plea against the West Bengal government's decision to allocate and grant Rs 28 crore to Durga Puja organisers.

A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and K M Joseph told advocate P V Dinesh that the matter would be listed for hearing on Friday, October 12.

The counsel, representing a West Bengal resident, Sourav Dutta, sought an urgent hearing. He challenged the October 10 order of the Calcutta High Court, which had declined to interfere with the grant of Rs 28 crore given by the Mamata Banerjee government to 28,000 Puja committees across the state.

In his plea, the petitioner contended that the use of tax-payers' money for repair, restructuring or construction of any 'religious place' offends the spirit and object of Article 27 of the Constitution.

The High Court, while dismissing the writ petition, failed to appreciate that there is no public purpose involved in organising Durga Puja rather it was a religious programme, he said.

"Since no public purpose would be served by granting money and/ or handing out concessions to Durga Puja organizers, the said decision of the state violates the provision of Article 282 of the Constitution and thus, is liable to be set aside," he said.

"The attitude of the state government is alarming since its actions are having the tendency to encourage communal passion in the community," he added.

The petitioner maintained that the Constitution prohibits 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.