The Supreme Court Thursday agreed to hear tomorrow an appeal challenging the West Bengal government's decision to grant Rs 10,000 each to puja committees in the state for Durga Puja celebrations. A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi was apprised that on Wednesday the Calcutta High Court had refused to interfere with the Mamata Banerjee government's decision to grant funds to Puja committees in the state. The bench also comprising Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph was told by lawyer Saurav Dutta, who had filed an appeal against the high court's decision, that the decision of the state government was against the established principle of law and sought an urgent hearing on his plea. 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, and said the legislature is the appropriate forum to decide on such expenditure.
An interim stay granted by the court on disbursal of funds stood vacated as the court disposed of the plea. The petitioner, in his plea, had challenged the government's decision to disburse funds to the tune of Rs 28 crore, claiming it was a dole to puja committees and had no public purpose. The plea also claimed that providing funds to puja committees is a violation of the secular structure of the Constitution. On September 10, Mamata Banerjee had declared that Rs 10,000 would be given to each of the 28,000 puja committees across the state--3,000 in the city and 25,000 in the districts, costing the government an amount of Rs 28 crore.