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Ex- Punjab CM Rajinder Kaur Bhattal to get back Rs 84 lakh penal rent she paid for overstay in govt house

In February this year, Bhattal had paid the penal rent to get the no-dues certificate from the state government to contest assembly polls on the Congress ticket from Lehra Gaga where she lost to Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) candidate Parminder Singh Dhindsa. 

punjab Updated: Sep 21, 2017 09:25 IST
Ravinder Vasudeva
Ravinder Vasudeva
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Rajinder Kaur Bhattal,Ex- Punjab CM,Rs 84 lakh
 In 2012, when Sunil Jakhar became the leader of opposition, he got the house and Bhattal was asked to shift out. However, despite all efforts of the SAD-BJP government, she refused to shift, citing security reasons. (HT File )

In an apparent act of favouritism by the cash-strapped Congress government of Punjab, the cabinet on Wednesday decided to pay back the Rs 84 lakh deposited by former chief minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal for overstaying in her government residence in Chandigarh.

In February this year, Bhattal had paid the penal rent to get the no-dues certificate from the state government to contest assembly polls on the Congress ticket from Lehra Gaga where she lost to Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) candidate Parminder Singh Dhindsa.

The penal rent, sources said, pertains to House Number 46 in Sector 2, Chandigarh, where Bhattal overstayed for 15 months, according to the department.

But, after her party formed the government in March, the former CM filed an application in July this year before the general administration department to get back the amount.The proposal was put before the council of ministers on Tuesday by the department and got the nod.

The penal rent, sources said, pertains to House Number 46 in Sector 2, Chandigarh, where Bhattal overstayed for 15 months, according to the department. In all, she lived in this house for more than 20 years, next to the chief minister’s official residence.

Earlier a minister, from 2007 she lived there in her capacity as the leader of the opposition in the assembly.In 2012, when Sunil Jakhar became the leader of opposition, he got the house and Bhattal was asked to shift out.However, despite all efforts of the SAD-BJP government, she refused to shift, citing security reasons.

It was only in July 2013, when Bhattal was allotted House Number 8 in Sector 2 from CM Parkash Singh Badal’s pool — “keeping in mind her demand to stay within the high-security ring around the CM’s residence” — that she finally vacated the house and shifted.The penal rent pertains to the period when she stayed in the accommodation not entitled to her.

Bhattal was not available for comment on Wednesday despite repeated attempts.

Before that, even the Punjab and Haryana high court had to issue a notice directing Bhattal to vacate the bungalow in a stipulated time. Sources said that when she had moved the plea for payback of the penal rent, the finance department had raised objections.

Bhattal was not available for comment on Wednesday despite repeated attempts.However, in her letter to the general administration department, she had cited that when she “overstayed” in the house she was also an MLA and, being a senior legislator, she was entitled to a house.“When I was entitled for an official house and I didn’t have any, how can my stay in House No 46 be termed as overstay? I paid the amount to get no-dues clearance only, and at that time too I had objected to it,” she told the department.

It’s not the first act of alleged favouritism by the Capt Amarinder Singh-led government to Congress leaders. In May this year, the cabinet decided to give a job to Gurikbal Singh, who is former CM Beant Singh’s grandson and Ludhiana MP Ravneet Bittu’s younger brother, making a case on compassionate grounds.

First Published: Sep 21, 2017 09:24 IST