Taking a serious view of former Ministers, Members of Parliament, retired judges and government servants staying in government bungalow beyond the period for which it was allotted, the Supreme Court on Friday issued guidelines to the authorities, including stoppage of pension, for vacating such unauthorised occupants.
A Bench of Justices P. Sathasivam and Ranjan Gogoi, while fixing a time limit of 30 days for judges of all fora for vacating the premises from the date of their superannuation, did not fix a time limit for others, who can stay for a period ranging from four to eight months from the date of demitting office. Their stay beyond this period will be treated as unauthorised occupation.
Privilege for Ministers
The Bench said “since allotment of government accommodation is a privilege given to the Ministers and Members of Parliament, the matter of unauthorised retention should be intimated to the Speaker/Chairman of the House and action should be initiated by the House Committee for the breach of the privileges which a Member/Minister enjoys and the appropriate Committee should recommend to the Speaker/Chairman for taking appropriate action/eviction within a time bound period.”
The Bench said “Judges of any forum shall vacate the official residence within a period of one month from the date of superannuation/retirement. However, after recording sufficient reason[s], the time may be extended by another one month. Henceforth, no memorials should be allowed in future in any government houses earmarked for residential accommodation.”
The Bench said “It cannot be said that at present there is no machinery to check eviction of unauthorised occupants as well as recovery of arrears of rent including penal charges. However, it is not in dispute that in spite of existing provisions/rules, directions etc., the fact remains same and the persons from all the three branches--the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary-- either by their influence or by lengthy procedure as provided in the Public Premises [Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants] Act, continue to stay in the government accommodation by paying paltry amount either by way of rent or penalty. There are cases where the occupants are so affluent that they are willing to pay the penal/market rent and continue to occupy government quarters especially in metropolitan cities where such government quarters are a luxury situated in several acres of land within the heart of the city.”
Writing the judgment Justice Sathasivam said: “the occupation of such government houses/quarters beyond the period prescribed causes difficulty in accommodating other persons waiting for allotment and, therefore, the government is at a loss on the one hand in not being able to accommodate those persons who are in need and on the other is unable to effectively deal with the persons who continue to occupy unauthorisedly beyond the period prescribed.”
In these circumstances, the Bench said “in addition to the statutory provisions, there is need to frame guidelines for the benefit of both Union of India/States and Union Territories for better utilisation of their premises.”
Bench said “Judges of any forum shall vacate the official residence within a period of one month from the date of superannuation/retirement."