The Supreme Court on Wednesday sought the opinion of the Centre and states on whether former Presidents and Prime Ministers and former Chief Ministers were entitled to government accommodation.
The bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and R Banumathi left it open to the Centre and states to appear before it and express their views. The court was hearing a plea by NGO Lok Prahari challenging amendments to an Uttar Pradesh law allowing former Chief Ministers to stay in government bungalows.
The bench took into account suggestions of senior advocate Gopal Subramaniam, who is assisting the court as amicus curiae. “On a consideration of the views expressed by the amicus curiae, we are of the opinion that we should leave it open to the law officer(s) of the Union Government and the concerned states who may have a similar legislation/executive instructions with the option of appearing before the court on the next date fixed,” the bench said. It fixed March 13 to hear the matter.
The court requested the amicus to send a copy of its order to the office of the Attorney-General or Solicitor-General as well as the advocates-general of states which might have a similar legislation like Uttar Pradesh. The bench observed that if the provision is struck down, then similar legislation in other states might also be challenged.
“Even if we do not increase the width of this proceeding, should we not leave it open to the Centre and other states to take part in the proceedings,” the bench asked the amicus who said “it would be most appropriate”. The amicus had suggested to the court that persons holding top constitutional posts were like any ordinary private citizens after they demit office and were not entitled to official bungalows.
Lok Prahari had challenged the amendments made by the previous Akhilesh Yadav government to the UP Ministers (Salaries, Allowances and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1981.