High court rejects Ambika Soni, Selja’s pleas against eviction
The Delhi high court on Thursday dismissed pleas of Congress MPs Ambika Soni and Kumari Selja challenging the central government’s order to evict them from type-VIII bungalows in Lutyens’ Delhi.
“The petitions are dismissed,” Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw said.
The two MPs had alleged that the urban development ministry and directorate of estates acted in “collusion” and were “hounding” them to vacate the premises, even though both were entitled to the accommodation by virtue of being Rajya Sabha (RS) MPs and former Cabinet ministers.
However, the RS Secretariat had told the court that the two were eligible for only Type-VII houses but not Type-VIII bungalows they are now occupying.
The RS Secretariat was in consonance with the Centre’s contention that the two MPs are ineligible for the bungalows as per the 2006 allotment guidelines.
The court, too, while reserving its verdict, had observed that “the allotment was bad”.
The government had asked the MPs to vacate their official bungalows by June 10 after the rejection of privilege notices sent by the two against the eviction orders served on them.
Additional solicitor general Sanjay Jain, assisted by central government standing counsel Jasmeet Singh, had told the court that said as per the 2006 allotment guidelines, Type-VIII bungalows are only allotted to a person who was a former speaker and has been a former Union minister, an ex-governor or a former chief minister.
They had also submitted that four Union ministers at present do not have Type-VIII accommodation and are living in Type-VII flats and added that ministers Birender Singh and Ram Shankar Katheria have been allotted the bungalows currently occupied by the two RS MPs.
Soni and Selja had contended that as per the allotment letters issued to them, they could hold the accommodation for a month after their term as MP expires or after retirement.
They had told the court that the houses fell under the RS Secretariat pool and the allotments were cancelled without giving them a proper hearing.
Soni and Selja had also submitted that asking them to vacate their bungalows on Akbar Road and Motilal Nehru Marg, respectively, were a violation of their constitutional rights and had accused the BJP-led government of “malafide against members of the opposition” for asking them to shift from Type-VIII accommodation to Type-VII.
The Centre had conveyed to the court that the two bungalows were handed over to the RS Secretariat, but the licence remained with the urban development ministry. So the two houses were put back in the general pool for allotment to Cabinet ministers.
It had said the two MPs should vacate the bungalows and move into Type-VII houses of their choice.