The Supreme Court today said that any order against the allotment of government bungalows to former Chief Ministers may have wider ramifications as there were different state and central laws on the issue. The apex courts said the issue needed to be debated at length as its directions may affect various state and central legislations regarding allotment of government accomodation to ex-Chief Ministers.
“We are of the view that the issue is of considerable importance which would have an impact on legislations in different states and also the central legislations,” a bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and Naveen Sinha said. The apex court was hearing a plea filed by NGO Lok Prahari challenging recent amendments to an Uttar Pradesh legislation allowing ex-Chief Ministers of the state to continue occupying government bungalows, despite an apex court verdict on it.
The bench also appointed senior advocate Gopal Subramaniam to assist the court as amicus curiae and said that advocate Gopal Shankar Narayan would assist him in the matter. It listed the matter for further hearing on October 10. The NGO had challenged the amendments made by the erstwhile Akhilesh Yadav government to the ‘UP Ministers (Salaries,Allowances and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1981’.
It had also challenged another law passed by the UP government last year called ‘The Allotment of Houses under Control of the Estate Department Bill-2016’ to regulate the allotment of government accommodations to trusts, journalists, political parties, Speaker and Deputy Speaker of legislative assembly, judicial officers and government officials.
The amendments in the law enables former chief ministers of the state, including Rajnath Singh, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati, to retain government bungalows in that capacity. The apex court had sought the UP government’s response on November 15, 2016, after the NGO’s plea filed through its general secretary S N Shukla claiming that the state government had sought to skirt the apex court verdict of August 1, 2016 by amending the law. In its 2016 verdict, the apex court had held that the government bungalows allotted to the former Chief Ministers of Uttar Pradesh was bad in law and they should hand over possession of the bungalows occupied by them in two months.
It had said the state government should also recover appropriate rent from the occupants of these bungalows for the period during their “unauthorised occupation”. The apex court had said that local law only gave largesse to former chief ministers “without any element of reasonableness”. Dealing with the legality of the impugned provisions, the top court had said “in our opinion, the 1997 Rules, which permit the former Chief Ministers to occupy government bungalows for life cannot be said to be valid. “In the circumstances, respondent no.1 (State of Uttar Pradesh) 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,” it said.