Uttarakhand HC Asks Former CMs to Pay Rent for Staying in Govt Bungalow After Demitting Office
The division bench ordered the former chief ministers to pay the rent as per the market rate for government accommodation occupied by them for years after relinquishing office.
File Photo of Uttarakhand High Court.
Dehradun: The Uttarakhand High Court Friday ordered the state's former chief ministers to pay the market rent for the entire period they continued to occupy government accommodation since demitting office.
Passing the final judgment on a PIL, Chief Justice Ramesh Ranganathan and Justice Ramesh Chandra Khulbe declared all government orders from 2001 till date providing housing and other facilities to former chief ministers in the state as illegal and unconstitutional.
The division bench ordered the former chief ministers to pay the rent as per the market rate for government accommodation occupied by them for years after relinquishing office, counsel for the petitioner Kartikeya Hari Gupta said. They have also been asked to similarly pay for other facilities provided to them as former CMs.
The court has directed that all amount due and payable towards amenities such as electricity, water, petrol, oil and lubricants etc. provided by the state government to respondents as former chief ministers shall be computed by state government within four months from the date of the receipt of the copy of the order.
It said the amount shall be intimated to the former CMs who shall, within six months from the date of such intimation, pay the said amount to the state government. In case they do not pay such amount within the specified period, the state government can initiate recovery proceedings against them, the court said.
The order applies to all former CMs who have been made respondents in the case, the petitioner's lawyer said. The court has not passed orders against former chief minister ND Tiwari who died last year but has left it open to the state government to recover the pending amount from his heirs or by selling his property, Gupta said.
The court also took strong exception to former CM Vijay Bahuguna for conferring a post retirement benefit on himself. "This act of the sixth respondent, in conferring a post retirement benefit on himself, when he held office of the chief minister, does show the state executive in poor light. That such acts have been permitted to prevail, and have gone unchecked, is undoubtedly a matter of grave concern," the court noted.
The petition was filed by Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra, a Dehradun based NGO run by noted social worker and Padma Shri awardee Avadhash Kaushal.
The six respondents in the case include the government of Uttarkhand and former CMs Tiwari, Bhagat Singh Koshiyari, Bhuvan Chandra Khanduri, Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank and Bahuguna who as per the petitioner's calculations owe more than Rs 13 crore to the state government.
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