The Supreme Court on Thursday threatened to issue notice to the Lok Sabha speaker if the government failed to evict 30 former parliamentarians who are unauthorised occupants of the bungalows that were allotted to them while they were members of the Parliament.
The bench of Justice BN Aggarwal and Justice PP Naolekar got irked on learning that the Centre had failed to comply with its earlier orders.
Subsequent to last orders of the court, the Centre was required to file a status report giving details of action taken against the unauthorised occupants. However, the affidavit filed, according to the court, was “vague” and not in accordance with its orders. The government failed to inform the court whether it had recovered any penal rents from the former legislators who have overstayed in the bungalows.
The bench did not mince words to express its dissatisfaction over the government’s inability to file a proper affidavit. “If you can’t take action, we will issue notice to the speaker. ” the bench said. It added that Central Government officials and politicians were not on a different footing from those of State Government officers.
The judges grew visibly upset when the counsel appearing for the Centre failed to satisfy their query on what action has the government taken or is proposing to take against the unauthorised occupants. When they asked the advocate, the latter claimed the bungalows that were earlier in the central pool had been handed over to the parliamentary pool for allotment to the Parliamentarians.
At this, the bench directed the advocate to approach the house committee of the parliament for remedial measures. It talked of issuing notice to the speaker if the option does not yield the desired result.
Minutes before the court cracked its whip on the Centre, it ordered the two State governments to immediately suspend government officers who are illegally occupying government bungalows. While there are 60 such officials in Hyderabad, 56 persons are occupying official residence even after they have been served with eviction notices.
The court was blunt in directing the States to arrest the defaulters. “Put them behind bars. Let them be IAS officers. They may be senior IAS officers, judicial officers or MLAs, but they have no immunity from the law,” said the bench.
The bench has also asked Bihar and Andhra Pradesh to amend Section 441 of the Indian Penal Code, relating to the criminal offence of trespassing, to make it non-bailable.