Uttarakhand HC Rules Govt Bungalows, Cars Provided to Former CMs as Illegal, Gives 6 Months Time to Recover Dues
The Uttarakhand High Court has directed the state government to recover dues from the former chief ministers within six months.
Representative Image/ Illustration by Mir Suhail.
Dehradun: The Uttarakhand High Court while hearing a writ petition on Friday ruled all amenities, such as the provision for a free bungalow and cars, enjoyed by the former chief ministers of the state as illegal.
While passing the final judgement on the petition filed by the Rural Litigation of Entitlement Kendra (RLEK), the two-judge bench comprising of chief justice Ramesh Ranganathan and justice Ramesh Chandra Khulbe, expressed “grave concerns” over ex-chief ministers in the hill state allotting themselves bungalows and other facilities for lifetime.
“All government orders from 2001 till date for providing housing and other facilities to ex-chief ministers in the state are illegal and unconstitutional” the court said in its order.
“The act of the sixth respondent (Vijay Bahuguna) in conferring post-retirement benefits on himself, when he held the 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 order reads.
Former chief minister of the state, Bhagat Singh Koshyari had challenged the petition in an affidavit on the grounds that his financial condition was “grave” and thus, he was not in a position to pay his dues. The court, however, dismissed the appeal and directed the government to recover the amount from the politician within six months.
Dues will also be recovered from the relatives of ND Tiwari,who passed away last year.
In 2010, the Dehradun-based NGO, RLEK filed a PIL in the Uttarakhand High Court challenging facilities to the former chief ministers of Uttarakhand.
Barring late chief minister Nityanand Swami, who preferred to stay in his own home, other former CM’s including Bhagat Singh Koshyari, late ND Tiwari, BC Khanduri, Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank and Vijay Bahuguna stayed in government accommodation.
Meanwhile, following a court order of 2016, the ex-chief ministers vacated their bungalows and some of them also paid their dues. The NGO then further pleaded before the court to recover the rent.
“I am happy that the honourable court heard us and gave a landmark order to recover dues from ex CMs. Our fight was for the misuse of resources at the cost of public exchequer money,” said Avdhash Kaushal, the chairman of RLEK.
The petitioner pointed out that more than Rs 13 crore has been spent in providing various amenities to such as electricity, water, petrol and oil, among other things to the leaders.
According to the counsel for RLEK, Rs 1.12 crores is pending on late ND Tiwari, Rs 47 lakh on BC Khanduri, Rs 37.50 lakh on Vijay Bahuguna and Rs 47.47 lakh on BS Koshyari as housing rent.
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