The Patna High Court on Tuesday quashed a bill which enabled the former Chief Minister’s to live in government bungalows for life. Calling the bill as “unconstitutional and a drain on the exchequer”, a division bench of the court headed by Chief Justice AP Shahi, ordered former Bihar chief ministers to vacate their bungalows.
The HC order comes as a major setback to Rabri Devi and Lalu Prasad, who have been living at 10, Circular Road. Former CM Jitan Ram Manjhi has been staying at a Strand Road bungalow. Also, Jagannath Mishra and Satish Prasad Singh, are expected to comply with the order and vacate the government bungalows provided to them at Hardinge Road in Patna’s VVIP area.
However, the HC said that a former CM may not need to vacate a bungalow if he or she is entitled to the same category.
The Patna HC reportedly came down heavily on the rules and cabinet resolution of the Bihar government which had ensured that former CMs continue to enjoy sprawling bungalows and other perks for their lifetime.
The HC bench of Justices AP Shahi and Anjana Mishra termed the rules as “predatory instincts for misuse of public exchequer and an act of the state government going beyond its ethical and legal limits”.
The High court had also served a notice on CM Nitish Kumar but withdrew it after the state government told the court that the said bungalow on 7, Circular Road, is allotted to the Chief Secretary.
The Patna HC’ order came keeping in view the Supreme court order, which last year, struck down section 4(3) of the UP Ministers (Salaries, Allowances, and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1981, which granted permanent accommodation to former chief ministers (CMs), saying that they aren’t eligible for government bungalows. The Supreme Court had said that the former chief ministers cannot be granted such facilities as they aren’t holding offices and asked former chief ministers in Uttar Pradesh to vacate the bungalows allotted to them when they were in power.
Following the last year’s order, former UP chief ministers Narayan Dutt Tiwari, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Kalyan Singh, Mayawati, Rajnath Singh, and Akhilesh Yadav had to vacate their official houses.
The decision by the Patna HC has come to further add to the bungalow worries for the family of Lalu Prasad Yadav. His sons, Tej Pratap Yadav and Tejaswi Yadav were both ordered to vacate their government allocated bungalows after RJD fell out of power. While Tej Pratap had left his bungalow claiming that CM Nitish Kumar had unleashed ghosts to haunt him in the building, Tejaswi had tried to hold on to his bungalow by taking legal measures.
Recently, the SC had rejected Tejaswi’s plea against the Patna HC order to vacate the bungalow immediately and also pay Rs 50,000 as a penalty.