A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has been filed in the Calcutta High Court over the West Bengal government’s decision to give out dole for 8,000 Sanatan Dharma priests. The announcement was made by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee recently. In a bid to reach out to majority people across all sections of society ahead of the 2021 Assembly elections, the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) administration is leaving no stone unturned.
The PIL was filed by an advocate named Saloni Bhattacharjee. The petition mentions grants given by the state government in other cases to 'imams' and 'muezzins' of the minority community. “The petitioner also came across further news reports saying that the Government had adopted a scheme by the name of “Rajya Purohit Kalyan Prokalpo” Under which a monthly allowance of Rs 1,000 and free housing would be allotted to each of around 8,000 Sanatan Brahmin priests. Hence this writ petition.”
The petitioner goes on to say, “Petitioner states that in our country which is declared as secular by our Constitution, the State has no public purpose in making financial grants in favour of either a class or persons defined by their role in propagating and preserving ritualistic aspect of a particular religion or for organizing rituals pertaining to a particular religion. Yet the State of West Bengal frequently indulges in expenditure which has the effect of promoting and propagating a particular religion at the cost of the public expenditure.”
The Solicitor General has asked the state government to file the affidavit to clarify the reasons for the grant. The case to be heard on Oct 14th by the Calcutta High Court.