Hyderabad, July 22 :-
The High Court has stayed the State Government order providing financial assistance to Christians for pilgrimage to Bethlehem and Jerusalem.
A division bench headed by the Chief Justice Mr A R Dave ruled that the government should not spend public money for any pilgrimage.
The court order came on a petition challenging the constitutional validity of the order issued by the Minorities Welfare Department last year.
The petitioner argued that a secular state cannot fund pilgrimage to holy places and contended that the Constitution clearly states how the funds of state could be utilized properly.
Earlier, the state government had announced a financial assistance to the tune of Rs 20,000 to each Christian pilgrim who undertakes 7-day tour to Jordan and Israel.
About 51 Christian pilgrims had undertaken the pilgrimage with the government assistance in November last year.
The government had allocated Rs 20 million for the purpose in the 2008-09 budget.