Excuses to moving court: What VIP squatters did to stay put in bungalows | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Excuses to moving court: What VIP squatters did to stay put in bungalows

delhi Updated: Aug 24, 2016 00:00 IST
Moushumi Das Gupta
Moushumi Das Gupta
Hindustan Times

Workers vacating Rashtriya Lok Dal leader Ajit Singh’s 12 Tughlaq Road bungalow in September 2014.(Sonu Mehta/HT File)

Evicting former ministers, overstaying in government bungalows, is not easy.

Ask urban development (UD) ministry officials.

In June 2014, Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) leader Ajit Singh was sent a notice to vacate his 12 Tughlaq Road bungalow, soon after he lost the polls.

An aviation minister in the previous UPA government, Singh was occupied the bungalow for over two decades. He refused to vacate it, demanding it should be converted into a memorial of his father and former prime minister Chaudhary Charan Singh.

Singh had taken a cue from former Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar, who got her bungalow converted into a memorial of her father Jagjivan Ram.

RLD supporters held demonstration outside the bungalow to protest the eviction. Singh had to give in following 118 days of unauthorised stay after the UD ministry cut off power and water supply to the bungalow. He vacated the house in September.

“It was a nightmare to get the bungalow vacated. Police had to barricade several roads in the Lutyens’ zone and shut down the Race Course Road Metro station to stop RLD supporters from gathering around the bungalow,” said a UD ministry official.

Ministry officials recall that before Singh, the other time the government had to resort to such force was in 2009. After Republican Party of India chief Ramdas Athawale did not vacate his Lodhi Estate bungalow despite several notices, eviction officers went to his bungalow and forcibly removed all his belongings.

Athawale is now a minister in the Modi government.

There are other interesting tales.

A tough stand taken by the NDA government after it came to power in May 2014 ensured that no request from former ministers or MPs seeking extension for overstay was entertained. This forced some to knock the court’s door — but in vain.

In February 2016, Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Choudhury, who had moved court to stall eviction was told to vacate the Type VIII accommodation in New Moti Bagh that he occupied long after demitting office.

A Lok Sabha MP from Murshidabad and a former minister in UPA government, Choudhury relented but not before officials disconnect power and water supply to the bungalow.

Former Union ministers and senior Congress leaders Ambika Soni and Kumari Selja had also unsuccessfully tried to get relief from the judiciary.

Both of them sent privilege notice to the government last year in response to the eviction notices. However, the Delhi high court in June 2015, ordered them to not only vacate the bungalows but also pay a fine of `25,000 to the Directorate of Estates.