Refusing to delete Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s name from a public interest litigation challenging release of Rs. 100 crore of public funds in the past four months by the state government for massive advertising, the Punjab and Haryana high court has said that Hooda needs to file reply as there are allegations against him.
The petition filed by Panchkula resident Lt Col Nand Kishore (retd) came up for hearing on Thursday before the division bench comprising acting chief justice Ashutosh Mohunta and justice HS Sidhu.
The petitioner had alleged that the money from public exchequer was being misused by the state government to project politicians and the ruling Congress in the run-up to the state assembly elections due soon.
During the resumed hearing of the case, the state government counsel requested the court that Hooda’s name be deleted from the petition as he had “nothing to do with the advertisements”. But the court agreed with the petitioner’s advocate’s averment that the name could not be deleted because there are allegations against Hooda. The case was posted for next hearing on September 18.
It has been alleged by the petitioner that the state government was circulating unregulated paid advertisements via various modes of telecommunication, print and social media. The petitioner has also submitted that a budget of more than Rs. 113 crore was sanctioned for the intensive media campaign for 2014-15 out of public money.
He specifically mentioned that the state government has already spent more than the estimated cost of Rs. 65.62 lakh on 14 short advertisements, films, jingles, submitted by single agency in the nameof Swastika-Entertainment Private limited. It has been added that 36 more advertisement films have been submitted for approval of the state government by the same agency, worth Rs. 1.28 crore.