On Friday, the Uttar Pradesh government told the Supreme Court that the state government has vacated 157 government bungalows including those allotted to former ministers, including the chief Ministers, of the state.
The counsel for Uttar Pradesh told the SC, “We are complying with the order of apex court and till now 157 homes have been vacated. Those persons, who have occupied the bungalows beyond the stipulated time, will have to pay occupational charges.”
A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice D Y Chandrachud also asked the state government to submit a detailed affidavit in two weeks having details of how many homes have been vacated and how much occupational charges have been amassed.
Earlier in the month of May, the Supreme Court, in a major ruling quashed an amendment made by Uttar Pradesh state government legislated during the rule of Akhilesh Yadav which allowed permanent accommodation to former Chief Ministers. The SC has said that former CMs cannot occupy government accommodation after their term comes to an end, as this is a blatant violation of existing laws. SC ruled that such legislation is “arbitrary, discriminatory and unsupported by the constitution”. SC also observed that “Public office becomes history after a person demits the office and it cannot be the basis for giving government residential accommodation for rest of his life.” The Court, while striking down the amendment, further observed that the provision in the Act, recognizing former holders of public office as a special class of citizens violates the fundamentals of equality. It is illegal, unprincipled and not supported by any constitutional sanctity. On these grounds, SC has struck down Section 4(3) of UP Ministers (Salaries, Allowances and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act.
The 2016 legislation in Uttar Pradesh was challenged by an NGO called Lok Prahari. The PIL, filed by the NGO Lok Prahari, had challenged the amended Section 4(3) of the Uttar Pradesh Ministers (Salaries, Allowances and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1981 which made former Chief Ministers of the State entitled to an allotment of government accommodation for their lifetime. In late August of 2016, three weeks after the Supreme Court ordered all former chief ministers to vacate their government-allotted bungalows in Lucknow, the UP government brought in a bill in the house to legalise their possession.
When the SC had rejected it in 2016, the Akhilesh govt. had a passed a bill in the assembly to ratify the practice. This was not only unethical but also subversion of constitutional principles.
Now, Yogi Government of UP is complying with the court’s order and coming down hard on moochers. The government is working very hard to put an end to organized loot and misuse of government property. All those who have occupied the government bungalows illegally, they do not have any distinct privileges and are common people. SC has also observed the same while striking down the amendment. SC observed that “Undoubtedly, Section 4(3) of the 1981 Act would have the effect of creating a separate class of citizens for conferment 28 of benefits by way of distribution of public property on the basis of the previous public office held by them. Once such persons demit the public office earlier held by them there is nothing to distinguish them from the common man. The public office held by them becomes a matter of history and, therefore, cannot form the basis of a reasonable classification to categorize previous holders of public office as a special category of persons entitled to the benefit of special privileges.”