The Delhi High Court, headed by a Division Judge Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar, has ordered the removal of 565 ex-government employees and 11 former Members of Parliament who have been illegally occupying government accommodation, reported Bar and Bench.
The directions to the Central Government to evict squatters came after a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) referred by the Anti Corruption Council of India alleged about illegal occupants in government quarters. The petitioner was represented by 9 advocates whereas the Union Government was represented by two lawyers, namely, Jitesh Vikram Srivastava and Syed Husain Adil Taqvi.
The Delhi High Court directed the Directorate of Estate, Central Government to notify 11 former MPs and 9 ex-government employees to vacate their illegally occupied residence by February 19, 2020. The remaining squatters are also to be served notices to vacate their accommodation.
The Court ordered to remove the occupants along with their belongings within one week if they fail to do so themselves within the stipulated time. The Court, however, made it clear that a stay order from a competent court or authority can prevent their eviction.
The Central Government had submitted two annexures containing the names of 576 squatters. Annexure I listed the names of the former MPs whereas Annexure-II highlighted the names of the former government employees.
List of MPs in unauthorised occupation (Rajya Sabha) pic.twitter.com/ScEvBFS9Wq
— Bar & Bench (@barandbench) February 8, 2020
The Judges were taken aback to learn that many have been living illegally in government accommodation for decades (the oldest squatter since 1998.) The Court also observed that the outstanding dues have run in lacs and is heavily costing the exchequer. It has, therefore, directed the Directorate to initiate proceedings against the illegal occupants.
The Delhi High Court also highlighted the ineffectiveness and the “indifferent and callous approach” of the few “handful officers” of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs. The matter was adjourned until February 27 after the Court deducted ₹10,000 from the following month’s salary of the Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.
This is not the first time that such an eviction drive had been undertaken by the COurt. In 2019, the Government served notices to 200 former MPs who had not vacated their Lutyens Bungalows even after 2 months of the dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha assembly.