HC dismisses petition against Sukhbir’s grant

In a relief to the Punjab government, the Punjab and Haryana High Court — while respecting the "doctrine of separation of powers" — on Wednesday dismissed a petition filed by former Congress MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira who had challenged Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal giving Rs 1 crore grant to Lawrence School at Sanawar in Himachal Pradesh.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Arjan Kumar Sikri and Justice Rakesh Kumar Jain stated: "All the issues need to be debated by the legislature and are left open to its wisdom. Respecting the doctrine of separation of powers of judicial and legislature, we dismissed this petition."

Sukhbir had donated Rs 1 crore to his alma mater on October 4, 2012 during its 165th foundation day celebrations.

Punjab Advocate General Ashok Aggarwal had submitted that state government had been conferred the power under Article 282 of the Constitution to spend money on any 'public purpose' and the issue as to whether the expenditure was made on a public purpose or not can only be debated and tested in state Assembly.

"The courts cannot interfere in such matters under their power of judicial review. Such expenditure can be made outside the state also, as government can spend money for such public purposes, in respect to which they do not have power to legislate," said

Aggarwal. The state had also taken the plea that Rs 1 crore had been given to the school following approval from the Punjab cabinet.

However, counsel for the petitioner, H C Arora, had submitted that funds worth

Rs 1 crore had been approved by the Assembly in the light of guidelines contained in the 'Punjab Nirman Programme'.

He had added that the guidelines of the programme stated that these funds shall be spent for development purposes in Punjab.

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