Former Chief Ministers of Uttar Pradesh cannot occupy govt. bungalows for lifetime: Supreme Court

Murali Krishnan

The Supreme Court today struck down the Constitutional validity of Rules formulated by Uttar Pradesh government which allowed former Chief Ministers to occupy government bungalows for life.

The judgment was delivered today by a Bench of Justices Anil R DaveNV Ramana and R Banumathi in a petition filed in 2004 by Lok Prahari. The Court had reserved judgment in the case in November 2014.

This case has its genesis in a public interest litigation petition filed by Janhit Sangathan before the Allahabad High Court challenging the occupation of government bungalows by former Chief Ministers and their kin. At the time of filing of the petition, there were no Rules or Regulations permitting former Chief Ministers to occupy government bungalows.

The State of UP framed the Ex-Chief Ministers Residence Allotment Rules, 1997 (1997 Rules) during the pendency of the said petition. The 1997 Rules are in the nature of executive instructions. They laid down that former Chief Ministers should be provided government bungalows for their residence for the life. 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 failing which they would be liable to pay penal rent.

The petition filed by Janhit Sangathan was disposed of by the High Court after the Additional Advocate General submitted 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. He 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 allotment of government bungalows to such trusts/societies/organizations etc.

Despite the submissions 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 resulting in the present case.

The main prayer in this writ petition was:

“(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.”

One of the main contentions by the petitioner was that occupation of residential bungalows after expiry of the term of office of the Chief Ministers is in violation of the provisions of the Uttar Pradesh (Salaries, Allowances and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1981, (1981 Act) which pertains to salaries and other perquisites to be given to the Chief Ministers.

The court accepted the said submission and held the following:

“…the 1981 Act does not make any such provision and the 1997 Rules, which are only in the nature of executive instructions and contrary to the provisions of the 1981 Act, cannot be acted upon. 35. Moreover, the position of the Chief Minister and the Cabinet Ministers of the State cannot stand on a separate footing after they demit their office. Moreover, no other dignitary, holding constitutional post is given such a facility. For the afore-stated reasons, the 1997 Rules are not fair, and more so, when the subject of “salary and allowances” of the ministers, is governed by Section 4 (1) (a) of the 1981 Act.

There is one more and most important reason for which the 1997 Rules cannot be said to be legal. The 1981 Act deals with the salaries and perquisites to be given to all the Ministers, including the Chief Ministers. The said provisions are statutory, but the 1997 Rules are not statutory and they are only in the nature of executive instructions. If there is any variance in statutory provision and executive instruction, the statutory provision would always prevail. This is a very well-known principle and no further discussion is required on the subject. When the 1981 Act enables the Chief Minister to have residential accommodation only during his tenure and for 15 days after completion of his tenure, the 1997 Rules providing for an accommodation for life to the Chief Minister cannot be said to be legal and valid. For this sole reason, validity of the 1997 Rules cannot be upheld.”

The Court, therefore, held that allotment of government bungalows to former Chief Ministers is bad in law and directed former Chief Ministers in occupation of such bungalows to vacate the same within two months. The Court also directed the State Government to recover appropriate rent from the occupants of the said bungalows for the period during which they were in unauthorized occupation of the said bungalows.

With this judgment, former Chief Ministers of Uttar Pradesh, including Rajnath Singh, Kalyan Singh, Mayawati, and Mulayam Singh Yadav will have to vacate the government bungalows which are being occupied by them.

Read the judgment below.

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