After the Supreme Court directive against former chief ministers occupying houses in several states, the Administration of Union Territory of Chandigarh has written to Punjab government to take a call on a bungalow allotted to former Punjab CM, the late Surjit Singh Barnala.
While Barnala passed away last year, his family continues to occupy house number 11 in Sector 7 of Chandigarh. The house was allotted to him from Punjab pool. The UT Administration is learnt to have written to Punjab government that since the house was allotted to a former CM of Punjab, the decision on getting it vacated was under the purview of the state government.
The department of general administration (GA), Punjab, has put up the file to the Chief Minister’s Office for further action. “Although SC orders are the law of the land, it makes it a very clear case… Yet, we do not want to take any decision without consulting legal experts,” said an official of GA department.
He said the file was put up to the CMO and he would be taking the call on it. Barnala’s son, Gaganjit Singh Barnala said, “We will follow the procedure and do as the law of the land wants,” he said.
Barnala had served as Chief Minister of Punjab from 1985 to 1987 during the days of militancy. He was a five-time MLA in Punjab Assembly and former Union Minister of Agriculture during former Prime Minister Morarji Desai’s tenure. A moderate Akali leader, Barnala played an important role in Rajiv Longowal Accord during militancy days in the state. He was allotted the house in Chandigarh after the threat perception.
Since Barnalas are now associated with Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), it remains to be seen what the CMO would decide on their occupying the official accommodation. The government is already grappling with the issue of government bungalow for former chief minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal. It has sought legal opinion on the issue.