Hearing a public interest litigation alleging misuse of discretionary grants by the Punjab chief minister, ministers and chief parliamentary secretaries to various organisations on a 'pick-and-choose' basis, the Punjab and Haryana high court has stayed the disbursal of such grants till July 10.
The directions came from the division bench comprising acting chief justice MM Kumar and justice Alok Singh on a public interest litigation filed by advocate HC Arora.
The bench stated, "Sanction of grants by ministers under the discretionary quota on the basis of pick-and-choose cannot be acceptable to any society governed by the rule of law."
The court said the Punjab government should explain the procedure, if any, being adopted by it for verifying from accounts of beneficiaries whether grants had actually been used for the purpose for which they were released. The bench observed that mere submission of utilisation certificates was not sufficient to know about the end use of the discretionary grants.
Going through an affidavit filed by Avtar Singh Mavi, undersecretary in the department of rural development and panchayats, the bench stated that an undersecretary-level officer was not expected to give his opinion about irregularities in the release of discretionary grants by higher officials. The court ordered the secretary, department of rural development and panchayats, to file a detailed affidavit on the next date of hearing (July 10).
The high court said discretionary grants could only be sanctioned by following the procedure consistent with Article 14 of the Constitution, inviting applications from all persons concerned and deciding their competitive claims.
Chief minister: Rs 50 lakh
Dy chief minister: Rs 40 lakh
Cabinet ministers: Rs 45 lakh
Minister of state/chief parliamentary secretaries/parliamentary secretaries: Rs 15 lakh