The Supreme Court, earlier this month, in a major ruling quashed an amendment made by Uttar Pradesh state government legislated during the rule of Akhilesh Yadav led SP government which allowed permanent accommodation to former Chief Ministers. The SC has said that former CMs cannot occupy government accommodation after their term comes to an end, as this is a blatant violation of existing laws. SC ruled that such legislation is “arbitrary, discriminatory and unsupported by the constitution”. SC also observed that “Public office becomes history after a person demits the office and it cannot be the basis for giving government residential accommodation for rest of his life.” The Court, while striking down the amendment, further observed that the provision in the Act, recognizing former holders of public office as a special class of citizens violates the fundamentals of equality. It is illegal, unprincipled and not supported by any constitutional sanctity. On these grounds, SC has struck down Section 4(3) of UP Ministers (Salaries, Allowances and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act.
The 2016 legislation in Uttar Pradesh was challenged by an NGO called Lok Prahari. The PIL, filed by NGO Lok Prahari, had challenged the amended Section 4(3) of the Uttar Pradesh Ministers (Salaries, Allowances and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1981 which made former Chief Ministers of the State entitled to an allotment of government accommodation for their lifetime. In late August of 2016, three weeks after the Supreme Court ordered all former chief ministers to vacate their government-allotted bungalows in Lucknow, the UP government brought in a bill in the house to legalise their possession.
When the SC had rejected it in 2016, the Akhilesh government had a passed a bill in the assembly to ratify the practice. This was not only unethical but also subversion of constitutional principles.
Now, in compliance with the court’s order, Yogi Government has issued six former CMs – Narayan Dutt Tiwari, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Kalyan Singh, Mayawati, Rajnath Singh and Akhilesh Yadav -to vacate official bungalows in 15 days. Currently, these former CMs occupy prime government properties in the high-security VVIP zone in the state capital. Now, all the former CMs are busy in house-hunting. Rajnath Singh had written to the Estate Department that he would be shifting in his own residence, at 3/206 Vipul Khand in Gomti Nagar. Former Chief Minister and the founder of Samajwadi Party, Mulayam Singh Yadav, had met CM Yogi with a letter requesting that 4 and 5 Vikramaditya Marg, currently occupied by his son Akhilesh Yadav and himself, be allocated to the leader of the opposition in the Assembly and the Legislative Council respectively. Ram Govind Chowdhury and Amhad Hasad are the leader of opposition in the Assembly and Legislative Council, respectively. Both are very loyal and trusted members of Samajwadi Party. This looks like a desperate attempt by Mulayam Singh Yadav to keep official bungalow occupied anyhow. However, Mulayam Singh has also given responsibility to find a new house for him to one of his party MP Sanjay Seth. But, his son Akhilesh Yadav has asked for two years to vacate the government bungalow citing ‘non-availability of suitable accommodation’.
After BSP Chief Mayawati disregards SC order, SP Chief Akhilesh Yadav demands two years to vacate the government bungalow citing ‘non-availability of suitable accommodation’. @Amir_Haque with the details #MemorialMaya pic.twitter.com/WEuxNZfvlH
— TIMES NOW (@TimesNow) May 21, 2018
According to BJP sources, Kalyan Singh would vacate his bungalow very soon. Former CM ND Tiwari is undergoing treatment in Delhi so the notice couldn’t be served to him. However, he will have to vacate the official government bungalow within 15 days.
BSP Supremo and the former Chief Minister Mayawati is employing tricks to save her bungalow. In a very sharp political move, she declared that her bungalow, 13-A, Mall Avenue from now onwards, would be known as Kashiram Vishramalaya Sthal (Rest House). A board was put on the gate of Mayawati’s government occupied bungalow. Yogesh Shukla, Special Secretary and UP Estate Officer, said, “They cannot register Bungalow Number 13A for anything else. They cannot convert that bungalow into a guest house or museum. A house is a house. I will check again if there is any mention of a guest house or anything like that in the old files. However, as far as I know, there is nothing like that. Otherwise, this nameplate would have come up long ago.” He also added, “Bungalow 13 A has been allotted to former Chief Minister Mayawati and there is no other use of the property. Also, this (nameplate) won’t have any effect on the notice served. The Supreme Court order is specific and clear-cut saying that government bungalows allotted to former CMs have to be vacated.”
BSP office bearers are, on the other hand, justifying the move by saying that there are emotional memories of Kanshiram attached with the bungalow. There is also a statue of Kashiram in the bungalow. He used to live there. This can be also seen as a political maneuver. Mayawati is under the impression that, CM Yogi would think twice before taking any tough stance towards a bungalow with the name of Kanshiram, a Dalit icon. Parliamentary elections are also approaching near. So, this seems to be a politically motivated move and hardly have anything to do with the preserving of Kanshiram’s memories. However, Mayawati is going to shift to nearby privately owned 9A bungalow.
All the former CMs should respect the court’s order and leave their government occupied bungalows and set an example. Former CMs do not have any distinct privileges and are common people. SC has also observed the same while striking down the amendment. SC observed that “Undoubtedly, Section 4(3) of the 1981 Act would have the effect of creating a separate class of citizens for conferment 28 of benefits by way of distribution of public property on the basis of the previous public office held by them. Once such persons demit the public office earlier held by them there is nothing to distinguish them from the common man. The public office held by them becomes a matter of history and, therefore, cannot form the basis of a reasonable classification to categorize previous holders of public office as a special category of persons entitled to the benefit of special privileges.”