Former Uttar Pradesh chief ministers Mulayam Singh Yadav and his son Akhilesh Yadav on Monday moved the Supreme Court seeking “appropriate time” for vacating their official residences allotted by the Uttar Pradesh government.
The top court had on May 7 held that former chief ministers of Uttar Pradesh cannot retain government accommodation after demitting office and said that a chief minister was at par with a common man once his or her term ends.
The two former chief ministers had earlier moved the UP government’s estate department seeking two years’ time to vacate their official residences and shifting to their private accommodations in Lucknow.
In their pleas filed through advocate Garima Bajaj, they have sought appropriate time to vacate their official bungalows on various grounds.
While the plea filed by Mulayam Singh Yadav sought sufficient time from the apex court to make arrangements for alternate accommodation, the one by his son Akhilesh has urged the court to consider the security of his family.
“We are requesting the Supreme Court to grant us sufficient time to make arrangements for a suitable alternate accommodation, taking into consideration the security of the petitioner and his family members,” Akhilesh said in his plea.
“Grant us sufficient time to make arrangements for a suitable alternate accommodation, taking into consideration the security of the petitioner, age and ill health,” plea by Mulayam Singh Yadav said.
The pleas by the father-son duo has been filed in the backdrop of the May 7 apex court judgment that had struck down an amendment in a state legislation allowing former chief ministers to retain government accommodations even after demitting office.
Shortly after this verdict, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Rajasthan governor Kalyan Singh, who were chief ministers earlier, had informed the estate department that they will vacate the government bungalows.
Rajnath Singh and Kalyan Singh are among the six former chief ministers who have been asked by the estate department to vacate the bungalows within 15 days in pursuance of the Supreme Court’s order.
However, former UP chief minister and Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati recently put up a signboard outside her official accommodation in Lucknow announcing that it was a memorial named after the party founder late Kanshi Ram.
The top court had passed the order on a petition filed by an NGO Lok Prahari challenging the amendments made by the erstwhile Akhilesh Yadav government to the ‘UP Ministers (Salaries, Allowances and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1981’.
In its order, it had observed that a chief minister cannot continue to occupy public property like government bungalows which belong to the people of the country and said the provision had the effect of creating a separate class of citizens for conferment of benefits by way of distribution of public property on the basis of the previous public office held by them.
The court, in its 29-page order, had said once such persons demit public office, there is nothing to distinguish them from the common man.
The apex court had also said that in a democratic republican government, public servants, entrusted with duties of public nature, must act in a manner that reflects that the ultimate authority is vested in the citizens and it is to the citizens, that the holders of all public offices are eventually accountable.
The NGO had also challenged another UP law of 2016 called ‘The Allotment of Houses under Control of the Estate Department Bill-2016’ to regulate the allotment of government accommodation to trusts, journalists, political parties, Speaker and Deputy Speaker of legislative assembly, judicial officers and government officials.
The apex court had sought the UP government’s response in November 2016, after the plea claimed that state government has sought to skirt the Supreme Court verdict of August 1, 2016 by amending the law.
In that verdict, the apex court had held that the practice of allotting government bungalows to former chief ministers of Uttar Pradesh was bad in law and they should hand over their possession in two months.
It had also said the state government should recover appropriate rent from the occupants of these bungalows for the period of their “unauthorised occupation”.