CHANDIGARH: The political controversy generated by the disconnection of a scheme launched by the previous Akali-BJP government for providing free power to cow shelters continues.
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, December 6
The political controversy generated by the disconnection of a scheme launched by the previous Akali-BJP government for providing free power to cow shelters continues.
More than a year after the Punjab and Haryana High Court directed the constitution of a committee comprising Punjab Chief Secretary and PSPCL Chairman to look into the denial of free electricity to registered gaushalas in the state, the Bench today had to extend by four months the deadline for taking a decision in the matter.
The direction by Justice Rajan Gupta came after the Bench was informed that the committee was still seized of the matter and needed more time to take a decision.
The issue had attained the proportions of a political controversy, with the Opposition attacking the government for accumulating approximately Rs 50 crore from cow cess, but disconnecting free power scheme initiated by the previous government.
Justice Gupta’s Bench, vide order dated October 12, 2018, had directed that the committee would look into the issue regarding collection of cow cess by the state government and the decision on not supplying free electricity to the registered gaushalas.
Taking up the matter, Justice Gupta asserted the time for taking a decision was extended for another two months earlier also vide order dated March 1.
Justice Gupta also took note of the assertion by counsel for the petitioner that representatives of gaushalas were also required to be heard before taking the appropriate decision.
“The prayer for extension of time is accepted. Time is extended by another four months,” Justice Gupta concluded.
The direction for constituting the committee was issued by Justice Gupta on a bunch of eight writ petitions filed against the State of Punjab and other respondents by Shri Gopal Gau Dham Charitable Trust and other petitioners through counsel Sarwinder Goyal.
The Bench was told that the petitioners-gaushalas were aggrieved by a commercial circular whereby free electricity has been denied to the registered gaushalas.
It was urged before Justice Gupta’s Bench that the state was collecting cow cess from the citizens. Yet it decided not to continue with the scheme for supply of free electricity. Justice Gupta on a previous date of hearing had asserted a query was put to state counsel whether the matter could be examined by the authorities concerned. In response to the court query, the counsel told the Bench that it could, indeed, be done by the state and other respondents.
The state counsel also assured Justice Gupta’s Bench that recovery of pending dues would not be ordered as of now. The supply of electricity, too, would not be disconnected till the decision was taken by the authorities concerned.