The Bombay High Court today refused to grant an interim stay on the transfer of funds from Mumbai's Siddhivinayak Temple Trust to the Maharashtra government for their fight against the deadly coronavirus pandemic and also for a subsidised food scheme for the poor in the state.
The court, however, made it clear that if any irregularities related to the funds were found later, it would direct the government to refund the amount.
An advocate, Leela Ranga, had filed a petition challenging three Government Resolutions (GRs) dated March 19, June 25 and July 25, 2020, that accorded sanction to the temple trust committee to donate Rs 5 crore each for the state's 'Shiv Bhojan' food scheme and to the Chief Ministers Relief Fund to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr Ranga's counsel Pradeep Sancheti argued that the resolutions were "illegal and impermissible" under provisions of the Shree Siddhivinayak Ganpati Temple Trust (Prabhadevi) Act, 1980.
The trust manages the famous Siddhivinayak Temple in Mumbai's Prabhadevi.
Pradeep Sancheti sought the court to grant an interim stay on any transfer of money from the temple funds to the government.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Revati Mohite Dere, however, said that it was not inclined to grant any stay at this stage.
The bench directed the Maharashtra government and the Shree Siddhivinayak Ganpati Temple Trust Management Committee to file affidavits in response to the plea.
Prima facie, we are satisfied that the petitioner has made out a case. However, we are not inclined to grant any interim relief at this stage.
"But any action taken (by way of transfer of funds) shall be subject to the final orders of the court, the bench maintained. If at the time of final hearing of the petition, we come to the conclusion that there have been irregularities (related to the funds), we will set the clock back and ask the government to refund the amount," Chief Justice Datta said.
The bench has posted the plea for further hearing in the first week of October.
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