Siddhivinayak temple in Mumbai
Siddhivinayak temple in Mumbai
Photo Credit: ANI

In a temporary respite for the Maharashtra government, the Bombay High Court on Friday refused to stay the transfer of nearly Rs 10 crore from the Siddhivinayak Temple Trust to the state, for fighting Covid-19. The HC has, however, ordered the government as well as the temple trust to file their affidavits in the matter.A bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Revati Mohite-Dere said that if at a later stage, the court were to conclude that there were irregularities in transferring the amounts, it would not "hesitate to set the clock back."

The bench was seized with a public interest litigation filed by an advocate, Leela Ranga, challenging three government resolutions (GRs) issued in March, June and July. The GRs pertained to the two transfers of Rs 5 crore each from the temple trust to the state government for fighting the Covid-19 pandemic and for providing food at subsidised rates under the Shivbhojan Thaali scheme.

"Such transfer is illegal and beyond the provisions of the Shree Siddhi Vinayak Ganpati Temple Trust (Prabhadevi) Act, 1980," argued senior counsel Pradeep Sancheti, appearing for Ranga.

Having heard the counsel for some time, CJ Datta opined that Ranga has made out a case to admit the PIL and hear it properly.

"We are satisfied that the PIL petition deserves admission," CJ Datta said, ordering the temple trust and the state to file their say in the matter.

Though it did not stay the transfer of funds, the bench however, said further action (regarding funds) would be subject to the final outcome of the present PIL.

"We will not hesitate to set the clock back, if we find there are irregularities in the transfer," CJ Datta said, ordering the matter for further hearing till the first week of October.

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