Former Chief Ministers are not entitled to Government Accommodation: SC

36 (1)The Supreme Court bench comprising of Justices Anil R Dave, NV Ramana and R Banumathi, in the case of Lok Prahari vs State of Uttar Pradesh, held that former Chief Ministers are not entitled to Government Accommodation. The Bench has also directed that any such possession of Government accommodation should be vacated within 2 months. With the above order, former UP Chief Ministers including Rajnath Singh, ND Tiwari, Mayawati, MS Yadav, Ram Naresh Yadav and Kalyan Singh will have to vacate the Government accommodation within two months.

The Bench has considered the following Questions “Whether the writ petition filed in the public interest is maintainable and whether the writ Petitioner has locus standi to file the writ petition? Whether the Ex-Chief Ministers Residence Allotment Rules, 1997 are legal and valid?” The Bench has answered the first question as follows: “So   far   as   the   first   issue   is   concerned,   in   our   opinion, the petitioner has locus standi to file the writ petition.   It has been submitted in the petition that the petitioner society is formed by retired civil servants, journalists and other persons who are residents of the State of U.P. and have no malafide intention behind filing the present petition and none of them has any personal grudge against any of the occupants of the government premises or any of the former Chief   Ministers. In   our   opinion,   when   the   petitioner   society   is challenging   the   validity   of   the   1997   Rules,   whereby   government bungalows have been allotted to former Chief Ministers, especially when there is an acute shortage of government premises, in our opinion, it cannot be said that the petitioner has no locus standi to file the present petition”.

Regarding the Second Question the Bench held that the position of the Chief Minister and the Cabinet Ministers of the State cannot stand on a separate footing after they demit their office.  Moreover, no other dignitary, holding constitutional post is given such a facility. “For the afore-stated reasons, the 1997 Rules are not fair, and more so, when the subject of “salary and allowances” of the ministers, is governed by Section 4 (1) (a) of the 1981 Act.”, said the Bench. “The 1981 Act deals with the salaries and perquisites to be given to all the Ministers, including the Chief Ministers. The said provisions are statutory, but the 1997 Rules are not statutory and they are only in the nature of executive instructions. If   there   is   any variance   in   statutory   provision   and   executive instruction, the statutory provision would always prevail”, the Bench added.

Allowing the Petition the bench held that in view of the aforestated clear and unambiguous position, the 1997 Rules, which permit the former Chief Ministers to occupy government bungalows for life cannot be said to be valid. So the Government cannot permit any former Chief Minister to occupy any government bungalow or any government accommodation after 15 days from the date on which his term comes to an end. Finally the Court has directed that occupants shall hand over possession of the bungalows occupied   by   them   within   two   months   from   today   and   the Government shall also recover appropriate rent from the occupants of the said bungalows for the period during which they were in unauthorized occupation of the said bungalows The Judgment came today, 20 months after reserving it, and 12 years after the petition was filed. Writ Petition (civil) No.657 of 2004, was heard at length only for a day on November 27, 2014, when the bench reserved its judgment. The petition was filed by Lok Prahari, an NGO, which is based in Lucknow. Its 20 members include retired IAS and IPS officers, Judges, technocrats, and others. Its General Secretary, Satya Narain Shukla, a retired civil servant with a background in law, argued the case himself, on behalf of the organisation. Shukla has no clue as to why it took so long for the Court to hear, and then deliver the verdict in the case. The petition prayed against the allotment of government bungalows to ex-CMs and other non-eligible organisations. Such a practice first began in Uttar Pradesh, and now governments in many northern states are doing the same, Shukla had once told Governance Now. The respondents in the case include both the State of Uttar Pradesh and the Union of India, apart from others. UOI was asked to assist the Court regarding the rules framed by the Centre with regard to allotment of accommodation, though they were not very relevant in this case.

The other respondents include the six former chief ministers of Uttar Pradesh. They are N.T.Tiwari, Kalyan Singh, Ram Naresh Yadav, the present Union Home Minister, Rajnath Singh, Mayawati, and Mulayam Singh Yadav. Besides them, some organisations and trusts, whom the petitioner had alleged as undeserving of Government accommodation, were also arraigned as respondents. The petitioner’s contention in the case was that even if security is a consideration, the former CMs don’t require a palatial accommodation for the purpose. Senior advocates, PN Mishra and K Radhakrishnan had appeared for the respondents. Although the petition was listed before different benches 20 times after it was filed, and slated for final disposal a few times, it came to be heard by the current bench only on November 27, 2014. In one such hearings in 2013, the then Judge, Dr.B.S.Chauhan recused from hearing the case

SOURCE: LIVE LAW

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