The Centre has politely refused to accede to the the apex court’s request for exchange of three General Pool Type-VIII bungalows with the Supreme Court Judges’ Pool, saying it was not possible at present in view of non-availability of vacant Type-VIII accommodation.
In an affidavit filed in response of the court’s order, the Centre said “in view of the non-availability of any vacant Type-VIII accommodation at present, it has not been possible to exchange Supreme Court Judges’ Pool bungalows with General Pool Bungalows.”
The Centre cited a letter written by CPWD Chief Engineer on September 19 to the Deputy Director of Estates-I, which said there was no need to replace the Supreme Court Judges’ Pool bungalows as they were in good condition. CPWD is entrusted with the maintenance of Government bungalows in the capital.
“The general condition of Supreme Court Pool bungalows, offices, garages, servant quarters, sheds, porches, guard rooms and toilets is quite up to the mark and the bungalows need not be replaced with other bungalows on this ground,” CPWD Chief Engineer said.
Supreme Court Registrar General VK Jain had earlier written to Urban Development Secretary Anil Baijal complaining that three Type-VIII bungalows viz. 1, Kamraj Lane, 4, Kamraj Lane and 11, Thyagraja Marg, New Delhi, placed under the Supreme Court Judges’ Accommodation Pool, had certain deficiencies and disadvantages.
Jain had requested Baijal to replace the said three bungalows by three other Type-VIII bungalows, preferably in the localities like Akbar Road, Krishna Menon Marg and Tughlak Road at an early date. He had also complained that 7, Tughlak Lane, presently placed under the Supreme Court Judges Accommodation Pool, was not suitable for the Hon’ble Judges as it did not have proper office room and only one gate to be used as ingress and egress.
Additional Solicitor General Amarendra Sharan, however, told a Bench headed by Justice B N Agrawal on Thursday that at present a number of entitled persons were waiting for allotment of Type-VIII bungalows including five Union Ministers and other dignitaries entitled for such accommodation.
Meanwhile, the court vacated its order to the Government not to allot any vacant Type-VIII bungalows in the capital to Ministers and top bureaucrats without offering them to its Registrar General for allotment to Judges.
The Bench vacated its September six order after the ASG submitted that allotment of bungalows was the job of the executive and courts could look into it only if there was any violation of norms.
Sharan said allotment of accommodation was an executive function guided by transparent and rational criteria. It could not indulge in judicial scrutiny of allotments unless there was deviation from the criteria, he said emphasizing that there has been no violation of allotment norms.
There are 105 Type-VIII bungalows in the capital in the general pool meant for allotment to former presidents, former Prime Ministers who are sitting MPs, Union Cabinet Ministers, Leader of Opposition, Chief Election Commissioner, Chairmen of Statutory Commissions, UGC, UPSC, AICTE, Attorney General of India, Solicitor General of India etc.
There are 27 Type-VIII bungalows placed in the Supreme Court Judges’ Pool. Besides, one Type-VIII bungalow has been given to SC Judges’ Pool for use as transit Home-cum-Guest House.
The Centre said that further 32 General pool bungalows have been placed in the Delhi High Court Judges Pool out of which type-VIII, though it is for the Delhi Government to provide accommodation to the HC Judges.