The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear a plea of Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari against issuance of a show cause notice by the Uttarakhand High Court on a petition seeking contempt proceedings against him for his alleged failure to pay rent for a government bungalow allocated to him as ex chief minister of the state. A bench of justices R F Nariman, K M Joseph and Krishna Murari issued notice to the Uttarakhand government and tagged the matter along with the pending petitions on the issue. The counsel appearing for the State government accepted the notice. On October 26, the top court had stayed contempt proceedings initiated against Union minister Ramesh Pokhriyal for alleged non-compliance of the Uttarakhand High Court's last year order on payment of rent by former chief ministers of the state for occupying government accommodation.
Koshyari, who sought stay of the high court order, contended in his plea that he is the sitting Governor of Maharashtra and referred to Article 361 of the Constitution which provides protection to President and Governors from invoking any such proceedings. The plea said the amount of market rent has been arrived at without any rational and is highly exorbitant for residential premises in Dehradun and have not been ascertained without affording an opportunity to hear him. The petition challenging the high court order has been filed through advocates Ardhendhu Mauli Prasad and Pravesh Thakur.
The Uttarakhand High Court had on May 3 last year ordered former chief ministers of the state to pay market rent for the entire period they occupy government accommodation since demitting office. The high court had declared all government orders from 2001 providing housing and other facilities to former chief ministers in the state as illegal and unconstitutional. The high court had directed that all amount due and payable towards amenities such as electricity, water, petrol, oil, and lubricants provided by the state to the former chief ministers shall be computed by the state government within four months from the date of receipt of the copy of the order. It had also said that the amount shall be intimated to the former chief ministers, who shall within six months from the date of such intimation, pay the said amount to the state government. The high court had passed the order on a plea by a Dehradun-based NGO. The NGO had filed a plea in the high court alleging non-compliance of the order.