The Uttarakhand high court has struck down key provisions of an Act passed early this year that provided bungalow at cheap rent, vehicle, driver and other perks for free to the former chief ministers.
The government brought in the Uttarakhand Former Chief Ministers Facility (Residential and other facilities) Act 2019 after the high court, based on a PIL, on May 3 last year ordered eviction of government residences and recovery of house rent at market rate from former chief ministers. The Act had granted protection to former chief ministers who were granted residences and facilities until March 31, 2019, beyond which none can avail them.
On Tuesday, a division bench comprising Chief Justice Ramesh Ranganathan and Justice Ramesh Chandra Khulbe, declared provisions of the Act void and illegal. These sections, according to the PIL filed by Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra, were protecting the state government from making recovery of market rent of building and facilities provided to them as former chief ministers.
In Uttarakhand, there are 7 former chief ministers since the state was created in 2000, and two of them, Nityanand Swami and ND Tiwari, have died. The petitioner’s lawyer Kartikey Hari Gupta said state has to recover money from Bhagat Singh Koshiyari, who is now the Governor of Maharashtra, Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’, who is the Union HRD minister, BC Khanduri and Vijay Bahuguna except Harish Rawat as he had not availed of the facilities.
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