UP Former CMs can’t Stay in Govt Bunglows: SC
Expressing my utmost satisfaction to note that the Supreme Court on May 7 in the landmark case of Lok Prahari Through Its General Secretary v The State Of Uttar Pradesh & Ors in the writ petition (C) No. 864 of 2016 struck down a provision of an Uttar Pradesh law titled Uttar Pradesh Ministers (Salaries, Allowances and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1981 that let former Chief Ministers retain government bungalows even after they have demitted office and their term ends! Why should the former UP Chief Ministers continue to enjoy the privileges even long after they have demitted office and their term ends? Why should they not be made to vacate government bungalows just like we see in the case of other public servants?
A two-Judge Bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and R Banumathi minced no words absolutely in stating categorically that, “Chief Ministers are at par with the common citizens once they demit office and allowing them to retain their bungalows at public expense would amount to creating a separate class of citizens.” Who can deny or dispute this? Justice
Ranjan Gogoi further minced no words in putting across very straight that, “The Chief Minister once he or she demits the office, is at par with the common citizen, even if by virtue of the office held the person may be entitled to security and other protocols. But allotment of government bungalow, to be occupied during lifetime, would not be guided by the constitutional principle of equality.” It is most striking to note that despite having sharp political differences and being at loggerheads with each other, all leaders of different political parties were united in backing this unjustified privilege conferred by leaders on themselves!
The Apex Court quashed Section 4(3) of UP
Ministers (Salaries, Allowances and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1981 which mandated allotment of official bungalows to former UP Chief Ministers. This was legislated by the Samajwadi Party government in 2016 for allotting these official bungalows to former UP CMs. As per this provision, a government residence shall be allotted to a former Chief Minister for life time, on payment of such rent as may be determined from time to time by the estate department of the state. This provision which was enacted by former UP CM Akhilesh Yadav was not altered even after the BJP assumed office in 2017 and it continued operating like earlier.
Truth be told, the rules were intended to frustrate the Supreme Court’s 2016 verdict in which it had directed six former Chief Ministers – Mayawati, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Rajnath Singh, Kalyan Singh, Ram Naresh Yadav and ND Tiwari – to vacate bungalows and set aside a rule framed by the state for giving them accommodation. The Bench said the impugned legislation can very well be construed an attempt to override the judgment of this court. The Bench also said that, “Undoubtedly, Section 4(3) of the 1981 Act would have the effect of creating a separate class of citizens for conferment of benefits by way of distribution of public property on the basis of the previous public office held by them.”
The Apex Court was hearing a petition filed by NGO Lok Prahari. Earlier, the UP government had in 1997, introduced a set of rules to provide government accommodation to former Chief Ministers for life. The NGO, Lok Prahari had challenged this in the Supreme Court, which struck down the rules in August 2016. The State of UP subsequently amended Section 4 of the 1981 Act, by which former Chief Ministers are entitled to government accommodation for their lifetime.
Mayawati's bunglow in Lucknow.
Former UP CM and present Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh's government bunglow in Lucknow.