After much dilly-dallying, the Punjab government has finally decided to issue a notice to former chief minister and senior Congress leader Rajinder Kaur Bhattal to vacate her residential premises under the Public Premises (Eviction of unauthorised occupants) Act, 1971, it is learnt.
Sources said the department of general administration had already prepared the notice to be served on Bhattal for immediately vacating her residence, which is located adjacent to chief minister Parkash Singh Badal's house in Sector 2, Chandigarh.
The department has sent the file to Badal for the final approval before serving the notice.
The state government has also been facing the heat in the Punjab and Haryana high court, where a lawyer has filed a petition against several politicians and bureaucrats for not vacating official accommodation even after their retirement or when they ceased to have entitlement for the earmarked house.
During the previous hearing of the case, the court had asked the state government to file a reply and state what action it intended to take against the violators. The next hearing in the case is on February 11.
Bhattal has been refusing to vacate the house ever since she ceased to be the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader. The Congress had appointed Sunil Jakhar as the Punjab CLP leader after the party's defeat at the hands of the SAD-BJP combine in the 2012 assembly elections.
The house where Bhattal is residing has been earmarked for the CLP leader. However, the former CM has been taking the plea that she should not be forced to vacate as she faces a threat to her life. She has even threatened a sit-in if the government evicts her, while declaring to pitch a tent outside her residence and stay in that in case she is told to vacate the premises.
Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, during a press conference last year, had categorically stated that no one could retain official accommodation on the basis of a security threat. "With this logic, the government would not be able to get several accommodations vacated. The security issue is no basis to retain official accommodation," Sukhbir had said.
Punjab chief secretary Rakesh Singh had on March 22 last year allotted Bhattal's current accommodation to Jakhar and also instructed the staff for compliance of the order within 15 days. However, the chief secretary has not been able to get the house vacated so far.
Sources claimed that at one point of time, there were instructions to officials of the general administration department from top government functionaries to go slow on Bhattal and rather re-allot her the same accommodation.