HC asks ex-CMs to clarify timeframe for vacating bungalows
Uttarakhand High Court on Friday asked former chief ministers of the state occupying government bungalows here to specify a timeframe for vacating them.
Hearing a petition filed by activist Avdhash Kaushal in 2010, a division bench comprising Chief Justice K M Joseph and Justice V K Bisht said the former CMs dwelling in government bungalows should set a timeframe for vacating them, the petitioner’s counsel Kartikeyan Gupta told a news agency.
The court also set a deadline till next Monday for this when the matter will be heard, saying if they failed to specify the timeframe for vacating the government bungalows, it will have to issue an order in this regard.
The court’s observation came on an assurance given by four former chief ministers of Uttarakhand including Bhuvan Chandra Khanduri, Bhagat Singh Koshiyari, Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank nd Vijay Bahuguna through their lawyers that they were ready to vacate the government accommodations alloted to them.
The only exception was N D Tiwari who was not represented by anyone in the court.
However, standing counsel for the Government of Uttarakhand told the court that Tiwari will also be asked to vacate the government accommodation occupied by him.
Armed with a recent Supreme Court order directing former chief ministers of Uttar Pradesh to vacate government bungalows occupied by them for years in Lucknow after demitting office, Kaushal, a Padmashree awardee, had sought early hearing and disposal of his six-year-old petition on a similar matter.
Kaushal’s petition seeks a direction from the court to five former CMs of Uttarakhand who occupy huge government bungalows in Dehradun despite owning houses of their own in the city and elsewhere including Lucknow and Delhi.
Welcoming the high court’s directive, Kaushal said once these houses are vacated they can be utilised to accommodate constitutional offices like the State Human Rights Commission office which is currently housed in a rented accommodation in the city for which the commission has to pay a monthly rent of Rs 1.20 lakh.
“It is a drain on the state exchequer as the former chief ministers have been occupying these accommodations free of cost for years despite demitting their offices besides enjoying other facilities,” he said.