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No state function during Vasundhara Raje’s Gaurav Yatra, rules Rajasthan high court

The order came on a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by lawyer Vibhuti Bhushan Sharma alleging that public funds were being used for a a political event.

rajasthan elections 2018 Updated: Sep 05, 2018 19:00 IST
Vasundhara Raje,Gaurav Yatra,Rajasthan high court
BJP president Amit Shah launched the yatra on August 4 from Chabhuja Temple in Rajsamand. The 40-day yatra, intended to cover 6,054 km in 165 constituencies, has so far traversed the Udaipur and Jodhpur divisions out of the state’s seven divisions.(HT File Photo)

In a major setback to the Vasundhara Raje government, the Rajasthan high court on Wednesday ruled that no function sponsored by the state would be held during the chief minister’s ongoing Gaurav Yatra.

The order came on a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by lawyer Vibhuti Bhushan Sharma alleging that public funds were being used for a a political event.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah launched the yatra on August 4 from Chabhuja Temple in Rajsamand. The 40-day yatra, intended to cover 6,054 km in 165 constituencies, has so far traversed the Udaipur and Jodhpur divisions out of the state’s seven divisions.

The high court concluded hearing on the PIL on August 27 and reserved its judgment.

Pronouncing the judgment on Wednesday, a division bench of chief justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice GR Moolchandani said that no government functions will be held en route when the chief minister and functionaries of BJP halt the Gaurav Yatra for some time and recommence it after the break. This means that the government cannot launch any social welfare programme or inaugurate exhibitions during it.

The chief minister has made government announcements on local demands — such as setting up of grid sub-stations and upgrading primary health centres to community health centres — during the two phases of the yatra.

“For a common man, if during the Gaurav Yatra, which is a political event, the leader of a political party, who happens to be the chief minister, inaugurates public functions, the understanding would be the glorification of the political party and not the glorification of the achievements by the government,” the judges said.

Earlier, the BJP submitted in the court that it was bearing the expenses for stage, tents, generators, coolers and sound system, and gave the court details of bills and invoices raised by service providers.

The state government told the court that whenever the chief minister travels, be it official or personal, the protocol and security arrangements have to be borne by the state. Thus, the money spent on protocol and security arrangements cannot be given the colour of expenditure incurred towards a political rally.

First Published: Sep 05, 2018 18:48 IST