The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav's plea challenging a Patna high court order asking him to vacate the bungalow meant for the deputy chief minister and imposed Rs 50,000 fine on him for wasting 'judicial time'.
The apex court did not find fault with the two orders passed by the single judge and the division bench of the high court dismissing the pleas of the former deputy chief minister against the state government's decision asking Tejashwi to vacate the bungalow for his successor Sushil Modi.
The high court had asked Tejashwi, who is now holding the post of leader of opposition (LoP) in the assembly, to swap bungalow with the present deputy chief minister.
"What is this luxury of litigation? Precious judicial time has been wasted," a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said when Tejashwi's counsel, senior advocate A M Singhvi, attempted to establish that the post of a minister and that of the LoP was similar in protocol.
Moreover, there is no separate class like deputy chief minister in law, Singhvi said.
He said there is chief minister and the council of ministers, but the state government has created a new category of deputy chief minister for the purposes of accommodation and other benefits.
"Was there no deputy chief ministers elsewhere? ...You see, two benches of the high court have held against you," said the bench, which also comprised Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna.
"Heard counsel for the petitioner and perused the relevant material. We are not inclined to interfere with the order impugned in the special leave petition.
"The same is dismissed with cost of Rs 50,000 to be deposited within a period of four weeks from today with the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee," the court noted in the order.
On January 7, a division bench of the high court rejected the RJD leader's appeal challenging a single judge order on October 6, 2018 turning down his petition against the state government's direction.
"The petitioner has been allotted a bungalow, matching his status as a minister in the government, at 1, Polo Road, Patna. He cannot raise complaint on the decision so taken, simply because the present bungalow is more suited to him," the single-judge order stated.
Yadav occupies the 5, Desh Ratna Marg bungalow, a stone's throw from the Raj Bhavan and the chief minister's official residence.
It was allotted to Yadav in 2015 when he was appointed deputy chief minister of the then 'Grand Alliance' government headed by Nitish Kumar.
The RJD lost power in the state and Kumar now heads a National Democratic Alliance government.
The Nitish Kumar government had asked Yadav to swap residences with Modi.
"We find that this squabble over the allotment of a bungalow should not have been made a cause of dispute, as if it was a division of some private property.
"The rights which are being agitated upon are not such rights so as to place them on the pedestal of legally enforceable, indefeasible rights," the high court had remarked.