The Punjab Government appears to be in a tight spot as it has virtually conceded that the recent donation of Rs 1 crore to Lawrence School Sanawar in Himachal Pradesh by Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal was not strictly within ambit of ‘Punjab Nirman Programme’.
During the resumed hearing on Thursday of Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by former Punjab MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira, the State Government filed an affidavit of IAS officer-cum-Principal Secretary, Department of Finance, Satish Chandra.
In his affidavit, Chandra conceded that grant to Lawrence School, Sanawar, in Himachal Pradesh was not strictly covered under the Punjab Nirman Programme, but it was paid after approval by the Council of Ministers.
The affidavit said under Article 205 of the Constitution of India, there was a provision for submitting supplementary demands before the Legislature after getting approval from Governor, and the procedure would be followed in this case also.
The affidavit further said under Article 282 of the Constitution of India, the Government could give any grant for a public purpose even in those cases where the State Legislature does not have the power to legislate over a particular subject matter.
Chandra said that grant to Sanawar School has been given because “it is a well known and reputed institution having distinction of having maximum number of youngsters of Punjabi origin studying in the school since Independence. It was decided to give a grant of Rs 1 crore to this school, as financial assistance for its various new development works/ upgradation of existing infrastructure”.
Immediately after the case was called, Ashok Aggarwal, Punjab Advocate-General, orally informed the Bench “As assured by me, the cheque has not been encashed. It is lying with me.”
The Bench, however, adjourned the case to November 8 for arguments after taking the affidavit of Government on record.
In this PIL, petitioner had challenged the action in giving a cheque of Rs 1 crore to Lawrence School as grant out of ‘Punjab Nirman Programme.’
The petitioner had contended that the funds for Punjab Nirman Programme had been sanctioned/approved by Punjab Vidhan Sabha for certain specified development activities within Punjab, and that those funds could not have been donated to Lawrence School by way of grant.