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Sanawar donation: Punjab says court can’t review govt grants
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 8
The Punjab Government today made anxious attempts to defend Rs 1-crore donation by Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal to his alma mater (Lawrence School, Sanawar) by questioning powers of the courts to decide whether the grant was given for a public purpose. The move comes after the state government conceded a week ago that the donation was not strictly within the ambit of the Punjab Nirman Programme.

As the Sanawar School grant matter came up for resumed hearing before a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Punjab Advocate-General Ashok Aggarwal claimed the state government had unrestricted power to give grants for any purpose, and that the courts couldn’t sit in judgment as to whether a particular grant was given for a “public purpose”.

Appearing before the Division Bench of Chief Justice Arjan Kumar Sikri and Justice Rakesh Kumar Jain during the hearing of the PIL filed in the matter by former MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira, Aggarwal said, “The state government has been conferred power under Article 282 of the Constitution to spend money on any public purpose, and the issue as to whether the expenditure was made for a public purpose or not, can only be debated in the state Assembly. The high courts cannot interfere in such matters under their power of judicial review. Such expenditure can be made outside the state also, as the state government can spend money for such public purposes also, in respect to which they do not have power to legislate.”

The Advocate-General went on to say: “The amount of Rs 1 crore has been given to Sanawar School after approval from the Counsel of Minister, and the amount shall be got approved from the state Assembly by presenting supplementary demands before it under Article 205 of the Constitution.”

Contradicting the arguments, counsel for the petitioner HC Arora said the guidelines regarding “Punjab Nirman Programme” categorically stated that the funds should be spent for development purposes in Punjab.

He added the state Assembly approved the outlay of Rs 1 crore for development purposes specified under the programme. As such, the earmarked funds cannot be used for any other purpose; and the high court can definitely intervene in a case where the state government is found to be misusing funds and spending these for unrelated purposes.





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