The Supreme Court on Friday read out the riot act to Congress MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury for not vacating the sprawling ministerial bungalow in New Moti Bagh in south Delhi and ordered him to shift out without further fuss.
Coming out strongly against the malady of overstaying by elected representatives and public servants in government accommodation, a bench of Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justices A K Sikri and R Banumathi said, "You vacate immediately. You must find an alternative temporary accommodation. You cannot grab this government accommodation. You have no legal right to stay in a house to which you have no entitlement."
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Appearing for the Congress leader, advocate Bijan Ghosh said the government had violated the MP's human rights by disconnecting electricity and water connection to the house. "A person has some human rights and the government must be directed to respect it," he said.
But the court said, "There is some propriety also. You must vacate. You have already overstayed in the house for nearly two years without entitlement. You cannot grab this house. Your paying the house rent is no consideration to permit you to illegally occupy the house."
When Ghosh said there were several others who were overstaying and termed it as a "practice", the bench said, "It is a malpractice that elected representatives overstay in the official bungalows."The MP had cried foul over the government's move to evict him from the Type-8 house, generally allotted to Union ministers. He had termed the action "political vendetta" while the Delhi High Court refused to entertain his petition seeking stay of his eviction.
Chowdhury, a Lok Sabha member, had moved the division bench of the HC against the February 1 order of the single bench's order dismissing his plea against the eviction, following which the authorities had disconnected water and power supply to his bungalow at 14, New Moti Bagh.
As a member of Lok Sabha, he is entitled to a Type-6 house. He was allotted alternative accommodation at C-1/99, Moti Bagh by the house committee of Lok Sabha in January, 2015 which he has not accepted.
Chowdhury is not alone in overstaying in government accommodation. The problem was so widespread that the SC entertained a petition on this and heard it for close to a decade before giving out several rulings.
In the final ruling on July 6, 2013, the SC had ruled that ministers and elected representatives in unauthorized occupation of government bungalows, or illegally overstaying in it, would face breach of privilege proceedings in Parliament.
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Knowing the spread of the malady of unauthorized occupation in all branches of governance -- legislature, executive and judiciary -- the SC had set an example by being unsparing on judges of the SC and high courts and said they must vacate government accommodation within a month of retirement.
For other government servants, it said the department concerned would intimate them about vacation of government quarters three months prior to their retirement. If they didn't heed the notice, they could find their pension reduced in addition to the ignominy of being forcibly evicted.
With the judgment issuing a series of guidelines, the court brought to an end the decade-long proceedings which started with the unauthorized occupation of Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation official quarters by a driver and spiralled into a major exercise to evict the high and mighty ensconced for years in sprawling bungalows in New Delhi's Lutyens'