Uttarakhand HC rejects Bhagat Singh Koshyari’s plea, asks former CM to cough up rent for govt bungalow

In a landmark judgement, the Uttarakhand High Court on Friday oberved that all amenities enjoyed by the former Chief Ministers of the hill state are illegal. The court said that amenities such as provisions for a free bungalow, cars and other facilities are unconstitutional. The courts ruling came while hearing a writ petition filed by Dehradun-based Rural Litigation of Entitlement Kendra (RLEK) to recover rent from former Uttarakhand chief minister Bhagat Singh Koshyari. According to News 18, the HCs direction came after former CM Koshyari moved a petition urging the court to reconsider his dues as he is not in a position to pay. The HC has dismissed the politicians appeal and ordered the government to recover the amount within six months. A division bench comprising Chief Justice of Uttarakhand High court Justice Ramesh Ranganathan and Justice Ramesh Chandra Khulbe expressed grave concern over the facilities enjoyed by the former Chief Ministers in the state. Except for late CM Nityanand Swami, all other Chief Ministers like Bhagat Singh Koshyari, late ND Tiwari, BC Khanduri, Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank and Vijay Bahuguna stayed in government accommodation. But following a court verdict of 2016, the former Chief Ministers have vacated their bungalow and paid their dues. Earlier, in its verdict on May 07, 2018, the Supreme Court had held that former Chief Ministers cannot retain government accommodation after demitting office. The apex courts order pronounced on a PIL (Public Interest Litigation) filed by Uttar Pradesh based NGO Lok Prahari. The NGO moved the top court after the Uttar Pradesh state assembly passed an amendment allowing all the ex-Chief Ministers of the state to stay in government bungalows for a lifetime. Following the top courts direction, the UP Estate Department had issued notices to the former Chief Ministers to vacate their official bungalows within a fortnight. The Estate department had issued notices to six former CMs – late Narayan Dutt Tiwari, SP patron Mulayam Singh Yadav, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav, Kalyan Singh, BSP chief Mayawati and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh. The top court also struck down the amendment to the legislation which permits them to retain government accommodation after the expiry of the term. The apex court called the amendment as arbitrary and discriminatory.