Tea cost Rs 900 a cup and dinner Rs 1,800 a plate. The local administration now is fighting shy of clearing the heavy hospitality bills of the Punjab and Haryana high court senior judges from a state-level function here more than eight months ago.
On January 17, deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, high court chief justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, justice Jasbir Singh (Punjab Legal Services Authority executive chairman), justice SK Mittal (Haryana Legal Services Authority executive chairman), and justice Jitendra Chauhan had inaugurated an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Centre in Bathinda.
Justices Rajesh Bindal, KC Puri, RK Garg, MS Sullar, Paramjit Singh, SP Bangar, and Jaspal Singh; besides district and sessions judge Tejwinder Singh and chief judicial magistrate (also district legal services authority secretary) Daljeet Singh Ralhan, were among the 75 guests.
The district administration spent about Rs 18 lakh on the hospitality of these high-profile guests.
Of this expenditure, Rs 6.53 lakh is for high tea alone; and Rs 5.71 lakh for VIP dinner and breakfast.
The records of Hotel Sepal suggest that Rs 900 cup was served to 75 guests, Rs 450 cup to 400, and Rs 600 cup to another 400; and including taxes, it cost Rs 5.98 lakh. Another 50 guests were served tea worth Rs 900 a cup, plus breakfast and dinner.
The cost of high tea did not do down well with the administration, and public works department superintendent engineer refused to foot the bill until the district authorities had verified it.
This PWD was the host. “A proposed menu of snacks and food, along with price list, was sent to the district administration and we served the items only after it approved; but till now they haven’t paid our bills,” said Hotel Sepal owner Vijay Katia. He claimed he had reminded the deputy commissioner repeatedly over the past seven months and been told every time that the payment was in process.
Bathinda deputy commissioner Basant Garg was unavailable for comment, in spite of the many attempts to reach him.