Following the "doctrine of separation of powers" of the judiciary and the legislature, the Punjab and Haryana high court has dismissed former Congress MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira's public interest litigation (PIL) challenging Rs 1-crore grant by the Punjab deputy chief minister to The Lawrence School, Sanawar (Himachal Pradesh).
Deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal had made the donation from the Punjab Nirman Programme fund to his alma mater on October 4, 2012, during the valedictory function of the school's 165th foundation day.
Pronouncing the judgment on Wednesday, the division bench comprising chief justice Arjan Kumar Sikri and justice Rakesh Kumar Jain said the issue needed to be debated by the legislature.
Further leaving the matter for a decision to the legislature's wisdom, the bench said the court could not interfere in such issues as it had to respect the doctrine of separation of powers.
Without going into the merits of the case, the bench said it had no option but to dismiss the petition. However, the detailed judgment is yet to be released.
Khaira had sought the withdrawal of Rs 1-crore cheque, arguing that the deputy CM's action amounted to undue enrichment of an elite school charging hefty fee upto Rs 3.05 lakh per student per annum, apart from Rs 30,000 as development fund and Rs 5,000 as infrastructure fund.
He had stated that the cheque was issued from the Punjab Nirman Programme fund for 2012-13, kept for various development activities such as improving municipal corporation roads, installation of tubewells, development of historical villages, Ambedkar Bhawans, sports stadiums, water supply schemes, construction of dharamshalas, etc.
Bench relies on SC judgment
The division bench, while deciding the case, also relied upon the judgment passed by the five-judge constitutional bench of the Supreme Court, headed by then chief justice of India KG Balakrishnan, on May 6, 2010, in the 'Bhim Singh vs Union of India and others' case.
Dismissing the petitions challenging the validity of the Member of Parliament Local Area Development (MPLAD) Scheme funds, the constitution bench had made it clear, "There is ample evidence in the Constitution itself to indicate that it creates a system of checks and balances by reason of which powers are so distributed that none of the three organs (judiciary, legislature and executive) it sets up can become so predominant as to disable the others from exercising and discharging powers and functions entrusted to them."