HC Notice to Punjab on Plea Against New Pilgrimage Scheme | Punjab High Court | Chandigarh News

Chandigarh: The Punjab and Haryana high court on Saturday issued notice to the Punjab government on a plea challenging the recently-launched Mukh Mantri Tirath Yatra Yojana.
The high court has also asked the state to file an affidavit by December 12 explaining as to why the Mukh Mantri Tirath Yatra scheme may not be stayed.

The division bench, comprising acting Chief Justice Ritu Bahri and Justice Nidhi Gupta, passed these orders while hearing public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Parvinder Singh Kitna.

The petitioner has challenged the Mukh Mantri Tirath Yatra Yojana, launched by the Punjab government on November 27, which involves running 13 trains in 13 weeks during the current financial year, with each train accommodating 1,000 devotees.

Besides, 10 buses – each carrying 43 passengers – will run every day from various places in Punjab to different pilgrim destinations.

The scheme involves spending Rs 40 crore during the current financial year, over a period of 13 weeks. Overall, 50,000 persons will benefit from the scheme during the current financial year, according to the state government.

The petitioner challenged the scheme on the ground that it is just a waste of taxpayers’ money and will not result in any development or welfare and added the scheme is against the letter and spirit of the directions issued by the Supreme Court in a judgment, titled “Union of India and Others versus Rafique Shaikh Bhikan and Another.”

In that case, the apex court, while taking notice of the expenditure involved in giving subsidy to various persons of the Muslim community for Haj, directed the Centre to progressively reduce the Haj subsidy and to eliminate it within a period of 10 years from the date of the judgment.

The Supreme Court also observed that the subsidy money may be more profitably used for uplifting the community in education and other indices of social development.

During the hearing of the PIL on Saturday, the high court bench pointedly asked the Punjab government to explain, by filing an affidavit before the next date of hearing, from how many people it had received a demand for starting such a pilgrimage scheme.

The bench also directed Punjab to give justification for the free pilgrimage scheme at the expense of the state exchequer, at a time when the youth in the state were crying for jobs and employment.

The bench directed the state government to explain as to why this Tirath Yatra scheme has been restarted, when a similar scheme launched by Punjab earlier had been withdrawn by the state government after a notice was issued by the high court in the case titled “Kuldeep Singh Khaira versus State of Punjab.”

The matter has been fixed for December 12 for the next hearing.

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