Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Friday came down heavily on Maharashtra government for failing to initiate steps to recover dues for police protection provided to VIPs including politicians and celebrities and said it was showing a very "calluous and careless" attitude on the issue.

It sought a report from the government on what progress it has made towards recovering the dues. A division bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice G S Kulkarni was hearing a public interest litigation filed by city resident Sunny Punamiya seeking direction to state police to recover dues from VIPs including politicians who have been provided security cover but have not paid till date.

Government pleader Abhinandan Vagyani today submitted to the court a list of all those persons who have been provided police protection, the money each person has paid till date and how much is due to the government. Vagyani said from 2010 till date, Rs 15 crore has been recovered and Rs six crore is pending.

After perusing the list, Chief Justice Chellur said, "We understand if those people who genuinely require police protection but are not financially well off are not paying the dues. But the list includes celebrities, politicians and builders. They can afford to pay the government."

"Why is the government not taking any steps to recover the dues from these persons ? This is very callous and careless approach to such an important issue. If the government wants to do charity then tell us directly," the court said.

The bench noted that there has not been proper application of mind by the government before providing police protection.

"As per the list, politicians' relatives and neighbours are also given protection. What is the need for security for such people ? There should be periodic inspections and checks. Public exchequer's money cannot be wasted like this," the court said.

The bench, which posted the petition for further hearing next week, sought a report from the government on what progress it has made towards recovering the dues.