The Calcutta High Court on Wednesday refused to stop the West Bengal government from disbursing funds to Durga puja committees, PTI reported. In September, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had announced that the government would disburse Rs 10,000 to each of the 28,000 puja committees across the state. This would cost the government Rs 28 crore.
A division bench of Acting Chief Justice Debasish Kar Gupta and Justice Shampa Sarkar was hearing a public interest litigation filed by advocate Sourabh Dutta, whose petition argued that the distribution of funds was unconstitutional.
On Tuesday, the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress state government told the court that it could not interfere in a legislative decision to grant the funds. Advocate General Kishore Dutta, who is representing the state government, told the court that the funds will be used to assist the police in their “safe drive save life” traffic campaign.
The court had ordered a hold on distribution till Tuesday and asked the state’s counsel if the distribution of such a large amount of money involved any guidelines. Senior Counsel Saktinath Mukherjee, who also represented the state, told the bench that the Comptroller and Auditor General and the Public Accounts Committee can study the expenditure records.
Meanwhile, West Bengal Bharatiya Janata Party President Dilip Ghosh on Wednesday accused the ruling party of attempting to divide the state along religious lines.
“From the very beginning, the Trinamool government has been trying to divide the people of the state on religious lines in order to secure its vote bank,” he said. “The Hindus don’t need doles from the Trinamool to celebrate Durga Puja... if the state government is so concerned about the Hindus celebrating Durga Puja, then why didn’t it give doles the previous years?”
In the last two years, the state government tried to put a stop to idol immersions on Vijaydashami as the dates clashed with Muharram, Ghosh alleged. “Where was the concern for Durga Puja then?” he asked. “Now, as the Hindus are uniting, the Trinamool is afraid that it will face their backlash.”