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Saturday, Sep 21, 2019

PIL against ordinance giving freebies to ex-Uttarakhand CMs

On September 5, Uttarakhand governor gave her assent to the ordinance which provides for many free facilities and “rent determined by the government’ for government residences to the ex-chief ministers of the state.

dehradun Updated: Sep 13, 2019 10:30 IST
Neeraj Santoshi
Neeraj Santoshi
Hindustan Times, Dehradun
Uttarakhand High Court
Uttarakhand High Court(HT File Photo )
         

A public interest litigation has been filed in the Uttarakhand high court challenging an ordinance promulgated by the government to provide many free facilities to former chief ministers of the state.

The PIL challenging the ordinance was heard by the division bench of Chief Justice Ramesh Ranganathan and Justice Alok Kumar Verma on Thursday, in which the petitioner’s counsel Advocate Kartikey Hari Gupta argued that the ordinance is “unconstitutional and has been issued with the sole purpose of overruling the judgment of the High Court”.

The PIL challenging the ordinance has been filed by Dehradun-based NGO Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra (RLEK), which had filed the earlier PIL also on the basis of which HC had directed the ex-CMs to pay their pending rent.

“This kind of legislative power is not available to the legislature. They cannot pass a law just to overrule the judgment of the court. During the argument it was felt by the petitioner that former CM and now governor Maharashtra Bhagat Singh Koshiyari, is also a necessary party in the case. Hence petitioner sought time till Monday (September16 )to make Koshiyari as a party respondent in the case. Request was allowed by the court and the petition will now be heard on Monday by the court,” said Gupta.

“We are filing an impleadment application on Friday to make Koshiyari as a party respondent in this case. All other former chief ministers are already a party in the case”, said Gupta.

Gupta said the petitioner has alleged that ordinance making power is only to meet out emergent situations and Supreme Court of India has already held that ordinances can be passed only when immediate action is required to be taken.

On September 5, Uttarakhand governor Baby Rani Maurya gave her assent to the ordinance ‘The Uttarakhand Former Chief Minister Facility (Residential and other facilities) Ordinance 2019’, which provides for many free facilities and “rent determined by the government’ for government residences to the ex-chief ministers of Uttarakhand.

The Uttarakhand Former Chief Minister Facility (Residential and other facilities) Ordinance, 2019 came as a relief to former CMs - Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, Bhuwan Chandra Khanduri, Bhagat Singh Koshyari, late ND Tiwari and Vijay Bahuguna - who were directed by the Uttarakhand high court to pay the pending rent of Rs 2.8 crore.

On May 3 2019, the HC had directed ex-CMs to pay the market rent amounting to Rs 2.8 crore for the buildings occupied by them as ex-chief ministers within six months. It had also directed that all amount due and payable towards amenities such as electricity, water, petrol, oil and lubricants etc provided by the state government to respondents as ex-chief ministers shall be recalculated by the state government within four months from the date of the receipt of the copy of the order and shall be intimated to the ex-CMs who shall within 6 months from the date of such intimation pay the said amount to the state government.

The HC had delivered the final order on May 3 after hearing the PIL filed RLEK challenging free residence, car, security and other perks to the former chief ministers in 2010.

The PIL had alleged that Uttar Pradesh ex-Chief Minister Allotment of Residences Rules 1997 were not applicable for the former chief ministers of Uttarakhand. It also alleged that despite having their own houses, the former CMs had government accommodations allotted to them.

First Published: Sep 13, 2019 10:30 IST