The Supreme Court on Monday decided to go for final hearing of a plea questioning the recent amendments in the state law permitting ex-Chief Ministers of Uttar Pradesh to continue possession of government bungalows irrespective of the Supreme Court’s verdict on it.
A bench comprising Justices Ranjan Gogoi and M M Shantanagoudar allowed the state government to file its reply to the PIL in three weeks and listed the matter for August 23.
The bench was hearing a PIL filed by Uttar Pradesh-based NGO ‘Lok Prahari’ which challenged the amendments made by the then Akhilesh Yadav government to ‘UP Ministers (Salaries, Allowances and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1981’.
The plea has challenged another Act passed by the UP government last year called ‘The Allotment of Houses under Control of the Estate Department Bill-2016’ for regulation of 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 plea of NGO filed through its general secretary S N Shukla claimed that the state government had passed the amendment bill to enable the ex-CMs retain the bungalow by skirting the apex court verdict of August 1, 2016.
In its verdict, the apex court had held that the government bungalows allotted to the former Chief Ministers was bad in law and they should hand over possession of the bungalows occupied by them within two months.
It had said the state government should also recover appropriate rent from the occupants of the said bungalows for the period during which they were in 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, it 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.