Payal Abdullah, the estranged spouse of former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah cannot be given government accommodation on security grounds, which is available to SPG protectees only, the Centre today told the Delhi High Court.
The Ministry of Urban Development told Justice Indermeet Kaur that the government accommodation, on security grounds, can be made available to private persons only when they are SPG protectees.
“It was declared that under the office memorandum of 2000 issued by the Directorate of Estate, Ministry of Urban Development and Poverty Alleviation, that no government accommodation will be allotted to any private person on any security consideration, except to Special Protection Group (SPG) protectees.
“Omar Abdullah has demitted the office of Chief Minister in January 2015 and Mufti Mohammad Sayeed assumed charge as the chief minister of the state on March 1, 2015 therefore, the petitioners were not entitled to occupy this premises, 7, Akbar Road (type VIII) bungalow, New Delhi, since the same was made for official use of Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir,” the affidavit, filed by the Centre, said.
The court on July 12 had protected them from being evicted from their government residence here till July 28 and this was today extended to August 4.
The affidavit, filed through Central government’s standing counsel Anurag Ahluwalia, said that Sayeed died on January 7, 2016 at AIIMS due to multiple organ failure, after which his daughter, Mehbooba Mufti, took oath as the Chief Minister.
Concurring with the stand of the Centre, state Advocate General Jahangir Iqbal Ganin said the state was faced with an extremely piquant situation in as it does not have an appropriate accommodation to house the Chief Minister in New Delhi befitting her position and security imperatives.
“The state government is not required in law to provide any residential accommodation to any of its Z or Z+ protectees. It is for the protectee to decide his/her residence and accordingly the state government provides the security detail, in coordination with the local police if the said protectee resides in Delhi,” the state government said in its affidavit.
The response of the Centre and the state government came in the backdrop of the court’s notice on the plea of Omar’s estranged wife that if she and her children are entitled to an alternate government accommodation, then the Centre be asked not to evict them till a suitable house is alloted to them.
She had also said the future house should be well equipped to accommodate security personnel in its campus.
The state government, in its affidavit, said, “the petitioners (Payal and her kids) can only reside in government accommodation through official position enjoyed by Omar Abdullah and they have no independent right claim or lien on the said premises nor do they hold any official position under the state government or government of India”.
In the plea, the wife and sons of Omar Abdullah, have claimed the Centre, through a letter dated September 9, 2015, allotted the 7-Akbar Road bungalow to the state of Jammu and Kashmir as the Chief Minister’s residence with retrospective effect from August 11, 2009, without following the due process of law, which was thus illegal.
They have contended that even now the website of the Department of Hospitality and Protocol of Government of Jammu and Kashmir shows that the residence of Chief Minister of the state was at 5, Prithviraj Road.
Their petition, filed through advocate Amit Khemka, has claimed that they moved the high court as Omar Abdullah in his response to the estate officer’s show cause notice had said he was no longer in occupation of the said premises and hence the authority was free to take whatever steps necessary to take over the premises.
The petitioners, including the two children, have sought parity with Priyanka Gandhi, Subramanian Swamy and several others who have been granted government accommodation on security grounds.
The petitioners have contended that the eviction order was passed without allowing them to lead evidence and without granting any personal hearing to them.
As per the eviction order, the petitioners were given 15 days to vacate the premises.
The petitioners have sought that they be either allowed to continue at Bungalow No. 7, Akbar Road, or allotted another suitable government accommodation where the security personnel, numbering 94, can effectively protect them.
She, in the plea, has said she has a flat in the city but it would be “totally insufficient for making elaborate security arrangements for their protection” as there are other flats in the same building.