The Supreme Court Tuesday stayed the contempt proceedings against Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari 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. The high court had on May 3 last year ordered the former chief ministers of the state to pay market rent for the entire period they continued to occupy government accommodation since demitting office.
The appeal filed by Koshyari, who is also the Governor of Goa, against the issuance of show cause notice by the high court on a petition seeking contempt proceedings against him came up for hearing before a bench headed by Justice RF Nariman. Issue notice on the special leave petitions as well as on the prayer for interim relief, said the bench, also comprising Justices K M Joseph and Krishna Murari.
Contempt proceedings stayed in the meanwhile, the bench noted in its order and tagged the plea with other similar pending plea on the issue. The counsel appearing for Uttarakhand accepted the notice.
On October 26, the top court had stayed the contempt proceedings initiated against Union minister Ramesh Pokhriyal for alleged non-compliance of the high court order. Koshyari, who sought stay of the high court order, contended through senior advocate Aman Sinha that he is the sitting Governor of Maharashtra and Goa and referred to Article 361 of the Constitution which provides protection to President and Governors from invoking any such proceedings.
The plea, filed through advocates Ardhendhu Mauli Prasad and Pravesh Thakur, has 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 high court had on May 3 last year declared all government orders from 2001 providing housing and other facilities to former chief ministers in the state as illegal and unconstitutional.
It 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 later filed a plea in the high court alleging non-compliance of the order.