01 August, New Delhi
The Supreme Court on Monday directed six former Chief Ministers of Uttar Pradesh, including Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, to vacate within two months the accommodation provided to them by the state government in this capacity.
A bench of Justice Anil R. Dave, Justice N.V.Ramana and Justice R. Banumathi said the former Chief Ministers have no right to occupy the premises which they must vacate as it held that the allotment was bad in law, being “largesse only to former Chief Ministers without any element of reasonableness”.
The other former Chief Ministers who will have to vacate their official accommodations located on Lucknow’s posh Mall Road and Vikramaditya Marg are Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh, Madhya Pradesh Governor Ram Naresh Yadav, Mulayan Singh Yadav, Mayawati and Narayan Dutt Tiwari.
Striking down the Ex-Chief Minister Allotment of Residence Rules, 1997, the court said that the Uttar Pradesh government can’t allow a former Chief Minister to stay in the official accommodation beyond 15 days after demitting the office.
Coupled with the direction to vacate of bungalows in two months, the court said that the state government “shall also recover appropriate rent from the occupants of the said bungalows for the period during which they were in unauthorised occupation” of the accommodation.
The court noted that all the six former Chief Ministers, besides having accommodation in Lucknow in this capacity, were also having another government accommodation in their other capacities.
“The facts on record also reflect that many of the former Chief Ministers, who are in occupation of government bungalows, are either serving as Members of Parliament or Governors or Cabinet Ministers in Central Government and they have already been provided another accommodation. It would, therefore, not be proper, in any case, to allot permanent residence at two places to one individual,” the judgment said.
Tthe 1997 Rules, “so far as they are not in consonance with the provisions of the 1981 Act (Uttar Pradesh Ministers (Salaries, Allowances and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1981) are bad in law,” the court said, adding they “give largesse only to former Chief Ministers without any element of reasonableness”.
The court rejected being devoid of merit, the contention that many of the former Chief Minister were under the Z-security cover and needed to be provided accommodation with requisite infrastructure.
As the Z- security is provided by the Union Home Ministry, the court said that it is the “obligation of the Union Government to provide accommodation to such persons in accordance with its own guidelines and it is not for the respondent state (Uttar Pradesh) to provide any accommodation and therefore, the ground put forth by the respondents is untenable”.
Rejecting the contention by the Uttar Pradesh government that in federal set-up, like the Union government, it too has to power to allot accommodations to its former Chief Ministers, the court said: “The 1981 Act does not make any such provision and the 1997 Rules, which are only in the nature of executive instructions and contrary to the provisions of the 1981 Act, cannot be acted upon.”
On the allotment of government accommodations to private trusts or societies, the court said: “Allotment of government property to someone without adequate market rent, in absence of any special statutory provision, would also be bad in law because the State has no right to fritter away government property in favour of private persons or bodies without adequate consideration and therefore, all such allotments, which have been made in absence of any statutory provision cannot be upheld.”
The top court order came on a petition by NGO Lok Prahari challenging the validity of 1997 rules, which, it contended, were without statutory basis and in breach of the 1981 act.
The 1997 rules were framed by the Uttar Pradesh government after Janhit Sangathan – a registered Society of retired senior civil servants – challenged the allotment of type VI bungalows to former Chief Ministers before Allahabad High Court in 1996.