New Delhi, April 3 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Monday gave Uttar Pradesh government three weeks time to respond to a petition that has challenged a state law which permits allotment of bungalows to former Chief Ministers on their request.
Giving time to the state government to respond to the notice issued to it on November 15 last year, the bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Mohan M. Shantanagoudar gave another four weeks to the petitioner, NGO Lok Prahari to file its rejoinder.
The top court had on November 15 last year sought the response of the state on a plea by Lok Prahari that has challenged two state laws – the Uttar Pradesh Ministers (Salaries, Allowances and Miscellaneous Provisions) (Amendment) Act, 2016, and The Allotment of Houses Under Control of the Estate Department Act, 2016.
The first had provided that “A government residence shall be allotted to a former Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, at his/her request, for his/her lifetime, on payment of such rent as may be determined from time to time by the Estate Department”, while the second had sought to regulate allotment of government accommodations to state government employees, their associations, political parties, journalists, trusts, officers of All India Service, lawmakers, ministers, Chairman and Deputy Cchairman of the Legislative Council, Speaker and Deputy Speaker of Legislative Assembly and Judges.
These two laws were brought to neutralise the earlier apex court judgment that had barred allotment of official accommodations to former Chief Ministers.
The top court by its August 1, 2016, verdict had directed six former Chief Ministers to vacate within two months the accommodation provided to them by the state government in their capacity as former Chief Ministers.
These were Mulayam Singh Yadav, Mayawati, Narayan Dutt Tiwari, Ram Naresh Yadav, present Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh, who have accommodations on Lucknow’s posh Mall Road and Vikramaditya Marg.
The court had said the former Chief Ministers had no right to occupy government accommodations as it held the allotments bad in law, being “largesse only to former Chief Ministers without any element of reasonableness”.
It had also asked the Uttar Pradesh government to recover rent, at market rate, for the period they were in occupation of these premises.