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HC Stops Mamata Banerjee From Giving Rs 28 Crore for Durga Puja, Asks What About Your Debt Now

Mamata Banerjee had last month announced that Rs 10,000 each would be distributed to 3,000 puja committees in Kolkata and 25,000 committees in the rest of the state. The decision was challenged by advocate Sourabh Dutta in a PIL.

Sujit Nath | News18

Updated:October 5, 2018, 8:18 PM IST
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HC Stops Mamata Banerjee From Giving Rs 28 Crore for Durga Puja, Asks What About Your Debt Now
File photo of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. (PTI)
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Kolkata: In a major setback for West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, the Calcutta High Court on Friday has put a stay on the distribution of Rs 28 crore to Durga Puja committees across the state till Tuesday.

Banerjee had last month announced that Rs 10,000 each would be distributed to 3,000 puja committees in Kolkata and 25,000 committees in the rest of the state. The decision was challenged by advocate Sourabh Dutta in a PIL.

A division bench of Acting Chief Justice Debasish Kar Gupta and Justice Shampa Sarkar questioned the government on what grounds was the exchequer money allocated for Durga Puja celebration and if there was any guideline to release that money at all. The bench further asked that if the exchequer money is only distributed for Durga Puja or other festivals also.

“The state government claims to be debt ridden, but at the same time announces a hefty package. How do you justify it? Besides, what action will be taken if the committees misuse the money?” the bench asked.

The state government has been asked to file an affidavit clarifying on all the questions raised by the Calcutta HC in the next hearing. No one in the government was available for a comment.

The move had also led to protests by Imams in Kolkata, who took out a protest rally on Wednesday, demanding an increase in their stipend from Rs 2,500 to Rs 10,000.

State BJP president Dilip Ghosh welcomed the court’s decision. “Mamata Banerjee is doing divisive politics by announcing such package on religious grounds. She needs to justify that on what grounds she announced Rs 28 crore for Puja committees when she always raised concern about debts. So, from where is she getting the money?” he asked.
| Edited by: Ahona Sengupta
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