SC Poser To Centre, States On Govt Accommodations
The Supreme Court on January 17 asked the Centre and states to express their views on whether former presidents, prime ministers and chief ministers were entitled to continue occupying government accommodations. The apex court, hearing a challenge to the amendments to an Uttar Pradesh legislation allowing former chief ministers of the state to continue occupying government bungalows, left it open to the Centre and states to appear before it and express their views.
A Bench comprising Justices Ranjan Gogoi and R Banumathi took into account the suggestions by senior advocate Gopal Subramaniam who is assisting the court as amicus curiae in this regard.
"On a consideration of the views expressed by the amicus curiae, we are of the opinion that we should leave it open to the law officer(s) of the Union government and the states concerned which may have a similar legislation/executive instructions with the option of appearing before the court on the next date fixed," the Bench said.
The court fixed the matter for hearing on March 13.
The court requested the amicus to communicate a copy of its order to the office of the attorney general or the solicitor general, as well as the advocates general of states, who might have a similar legislation as that of UP.
During the hearing, the apex court observed that if the challenged provision was held invalid, similar legislation in other states might also be challenged.
The court had last year observed that the issue needed to be debated at length as its directions might affect various state and Central legislation regarding allotment of government accommodation to former chief ministers.
An NGO had challenged the amendments made by erstwhile Akhilesh Yadav government to the UP Ministers (Salaries, Allowances and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1981.
It also challenged another UP law of 2016, 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 apex court had sought the UP government's response in November 2016, after the plea claimed that the state government had sought to skirt the Supreme Court's 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 also said the state government should recover appropriate rent from the occupants of these bungalows for the period during their "unauthorised occupation".
With inputs from Housing News