Government Bungalows; Lok Prahari Vs. State of U.P. [Supreme Court of India, 01-08-2016]

Ex-Chief Ministers Residence Allotment Rules, 1997Government bungalows occupied by former Chief Ministers of the State of Uttar Pradesh – the 1997 Rules, which permit the former Chief Ministers to occupy government bungalows for life cannot be said to be valid.

Former Chief Ministers


IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

CIVIL ORIGINAL JURISDICTION

(ANIL R. DAVE, J.) (N.V. RAMANA, J.) (R. BANUMATHI, J.)

AUGUST 01, 2016.

WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO.657 OF 2004

Lok Prahari … Petitioner

Versus

State of U.P. & Ors. … Respondents

J U D G M E N T

ANIL R. DAVE, J.

1. A short but serious and significant issue has been raised in this public interest litigation, which pertains to government bungalows occupied by former Chief Ministers of the State of Uttar Pradesh.

2. The Petitioner is a Society registered under the Societies Registration Act with objects pertaining to public welfare, etc. and the petition has been filed through its General Secretary, who appeared in person. He is a former officer of All India Services and has ventilated grievances which are definitely serious one, touching the State exchequer and conduct of the persons who were Chief Ministers of the State of Uttar Pradesh. The main submission made in the petition is that several former Chief Ministers had occupied Government bungalows of Type VI even after demitting office of the Chief Minister for several years without any right to retain the same, which is not only immoral and illegal, but it also does not befit persons who were Chief Ministers of the State.

3. At the time when the petition was admitted on 13th January, 2006, this Court had passed the following Order:

“The challenge in this petition is to the

Validity of Ex-Chief Ministers Residence Allotment Rules, 1997.

The petitioner claims it to be illegal, malafides and colourable exercise of power. It is also claimed that the Rules, which are non-statutory, could not have been framed in the light of the provisions of the Uttar Pradesh Ministers (Salaries, Allowances and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1981. On the other hand, it has been, inter alia, contended on behalf of the State that in the federal structure, there is no bar if provision is made for allotment of residential accommodation to ex-Chief Ministers of the State. It is also contended that the matter deserves to be examined further in the light of the provisions of the President’s (Emoluments and Pension) Act, 1951. The further contention is that the former Presidents and the Prime Ministers are also allotted residential accommodation after they cease to hold those positions. In our view, the writ petition raises important questions, which require deeper consideration. Accordingly, while issuing Rule, we direct that notice be issued to the Union of India and other State Governments/Union Territories.”

Thus, we have to examine whether the provisions of Ex-Chief Ministers Residence Allotment Rules, 1997 (hereinafter referred to as ‘the 1997 Rules’) are valid or contrary to the provisions of the Uttar Pradesh Ministers (Salaries, Allowances and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1981 (hereinafter referred to as the ‘the 1981 Act’).

4. As several former Chief Ministers had occupied government bungalows, a petition, in the nature of a Public Interest Litigation, being Writ Petition No.1313 (M/S) of 1996 was filed before the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad by Janhit Sangathan, a registered Society of retired senior Civil Servants. At the time when the said petition was filed, there were no Rules or Regulations permitting former Chief Ministers to occupy government bungalows.

5. In the aforestated circumstances, the State of U.P. i.e. respondent no.1 framed the 1997 Rules during the pendency of the said petition. The 1997 Rules are not statutory Rules and they are in the nature of executive instructions. The 1997 Rules provide that former Chief Ministers should be provided government bungalows for their residence for the life and upon their death, the family members occupying the bungalow should hand over vacant possession of the bungalow within 3 months from the date of the death of the former Chief Minister and failing which they would be liable to pay penal rent. The 1997 Rules do not provide for allotment of bungalows either to the family members of the former Chief Ministers or to any Trust or Society concerned with any former Chief Minister.

6. As the 1997 Rules were framed during the pendency of Writ Petition No.1313 (M/S) of 1996, the aforestated Writ Petition was amended so as to challenge the validity of the 1997 Rules on the ground that the 1997 Rules were not only unconstitutional and illegal, but were also violative of the provisions of Article 14 of the Constitution of India.

7. At the time of hearing of the said petition, a statement was made by the learned Additional Advocate General appearing for respondent no.1 that only Type V bungalows would be allotted to the former Chief Ministers and the former Chief Ministers will have to make some payment of rent for occupying such bungalows. Some other provisions with regard to expenditure to be incurred for maintenance of the bungalows were also referred to by him. The learned Additional Advocate General had further submitted that possession of bungalows allotted to private trusts or organizations would be taken back by the government as there was no provision with regard to making allotment of government bungalows to such trusts/societies/organizations etc. Ultimately, the petition was disposed of on 20th August, 2001 without deciding the validity of the 1997 Rules in view of the fact that the aforestated statements were made by the learned Additional Advocate General on behalf of Respondent no.1-State. It was also directed that the family members of the former Chief Ministers, who were occupying such premises even after the death of the former Chief Minister will have to vacate the premises within a particular period.

8. It further appears that in spite of the statement made by the learned Additional Advocate General, the government did not do the needful for getting possession of the bungalows occupied by the family members of the deceased former Chief Ministers and in the aforestated circumstances, the present writ petition was filed with the following main prayer :

“(1) declare the Ex-Chief Ministers Residences Allotment Rules, 1997 (Annexure P-4 to the WP) illegal being malafides, colourable exercise of power and against the provisions of the Constitution.”

It has also been prayed that rent payable by the unauthorized occupants of such bungalows be recovered and those who were occupying bungalows allotted to former Chief Ministers be evicted.

9. It has also been prayed that certain private trusts or organizations or societies, who are occupying government bungalows be also directed to vacate the bungalows.

10. It is pertinent to note that after disposal of Writ Petition No.1313 (M/S) of 1996, respondent no.1-State framed rules titled as “The Distinguished Personality Trust Allotment of Houses in Lucknow under the Control of State Estate Department Rules, 2003” (hereinafter referred to as ‘the 2003 Rules’) under Office Memorandum dated 31.12.2003 to deal with lease of houses for the use of any social service trust set up in the name of a distinguished person who is known as a National hero. In addition, a policy decision dated 4th July, 2005 was taken regarding allotment of premises at Lucknow, under the administrative control of Respondent No.2 department, to certain NGOs/Trusts, Non-Government persons and employees’ Union, who were not included under the 2003 Rules.

11. In pursuance of the aforestated 2003 Rules, one of the respondents had been allotted a bungalow on lease for 30 years, which was renewable for a further period of 90 years at the yearly rent of rupee 1/- by virtue of Office Memo dated 22nd January, 2004. Similarly, several other bungalows had also been allotted on lease to different bodies, by and large, on similar terms in pursuance of the aforestated 2003 Rules.

12. The short submissions made by the petitioner were to the effect that after demitting the office as a Chief Minister, a person has no right to occupy any Government bungalow for his residence and yet several persons named in the petition, who were Chief Ministers of the State of Uttar Pradesh had continued to occupy Government bungalows, which are maintained by the Government by spending enormously huge amount every year. In absence of any statutory provision, according to the petitioner, continued occupation or occupation of another house after demitting the office of a Chief Minister is illegal and therefore, they should be asked to vacate the bungalows occupied by them and should also be asked to pay notional rent for the unauthorized occupation. Another submission made by the petitioner was that even if some rules and regulations are made for allotting residential bungalows to former Chief Ministers, it would be discriminatory and violative of the provisions of Article 14 of the Constitution of India for the reason that other dignitaries like the Chief Justice of the State or Principal Chief Secretary or Speaker of the Assembly etc. are not given such facilities. Giving residential bungalows to some of the persons holding constitutional position in the State, by ignoring other almost similarly situated persons would not be proper and even if there is any regulation empowering the Government to allot residential bungalows to former Chief Ministers, the Rules or Regulations made to that effect cannot be said to be legal and Constitutional.

13. Another submission made by the petitioner was that the Government authorities did not act as per the real spirit with which judgment in the case of