Notice to Centre, States on houses to VIPs

Legal Correspondent

Petition against U.P. Government allotment to ex-Chief Ministers

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice to the Centre, all the States and Union Territories to examine the scope and powers of the States to allot houses to former Chief Ministers, Ministers and other functionaries.

The court said it would consider whether government bungalows could be allotted to ex-Chief Ministers on the lines of the accommodation given by the Union Government to former Presidents, Vice-Presidents and Prime Ministers.

The court in 2004 issued notice to the Uttar Pradesh Government on a petition from `Lok Prahari,' which had challenged a decision of the State Government to allot bungalows to ex-Chief Ministers in the State capital. On Friday, after hearing senior counsel Ashok Desai for the U.P. Government and the petitioner, a Bench comprising Chief Justice Y. K. Sabharwal, Justice C. K. Thakker and Justice R. V. Raveendran extended the scope of judicial scrutiny of such allotments by making the Union Government and State Governments parties.

The petition by `Lok Prahari' challenged Ex-Chief Ministers Residence Allotment Rules framed by the U.P. Government in 1997. It was argued that the non-statutory rules for allotment of bungalows to Chief Ministers for life was unconstitutional, illegaland violative of Article 14 of the Constitution. The petition sought a direction to the State Government to cancel forthwith, illegal allotments made in favour of 16 former Chief Ministers, including former Prime Minister V.P. Singh, Uttaranchal Chief Minister N. D. Tiwari and BSP leader Mayawati.

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