UP Former CMs can’t Stay in Govt Bun­glows: SC

Alive - - Editorial -

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.

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