The Punjab and Haryana high court on Friday ordered the finalisation of eviction proceedings against former Haryana power minister Savitri Jindal and former Punjab cabinet minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal for illegal occupation of government accommodations in Chandigarh, within six weeks.
A division bench comprising acting chief justice Jasbir Singh and justice Rakesh Kumar Jain said that if Jindal fails to vacate the government accommodation within 15 days, proceedings under the Public Premises and Land (Eviction and Rent Recovery) Act should be closed against her within six weeks.
When in Bhattal's case the state government submitted that eviction proceedings had already been started against her, the court asked it to close eviction proceedings against her as well within six weeks.
Anguished over the illegal occupation, the court said, "Is it that any rich person who can pay penal rent can occupy government house illegally? For MLAs, there is a separate MLA hostel. Why can't they live there?"
Jindal is illegally residing in house no, 76, Sector 7, Chandigarh, and has to pay Rs. 89.29 lakh for overstaying from November 2009 onwards. Bhattal is illegally occupying house no. 46 in Sector 2, Chandigarh, and has been directed by the Punjab government to pay a penal rent of Rs. 66.65 lakh from March 22, 2012 to November 15, 2012.
During the arguments, the Punjab government's counsel told the court that there were 39 unauthorised occupants of government accommodation and the state government had decided to stop their salaries. However, the court said that the government could at least start departmental action against serving officers.
The court also directed the authorities to file applications for eviction before the estate officer concerned within a week, after which the estate officer would deal with the matter within six weeks.
The Haryana counsel told the court that out of the total number of nine unauthorised occupants, six had been evicted.
The Chandigarh administration's counsel said a survey of all the accommodations, including commercial properties and tenements, in Chandigarh had been completed in all aspects. Since the record is voluminous and has some errors, it will be produced before the court on the next date of hearing, the counsel of the UT said.
The case will come up for next hearing on May 15.