HC notice to Punjab govt, former CM Bhattal on plea for penal rent recovery

Being a minister, the house was allotted to Bhattal in 1992. Later, she retained the house in 1996 on becoming the CM. Even as she demitted office in 1999, the house was allotted to her being a former CM, says the petition.

punjab Updated: Aug 01, 2018 10:16 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Punjab govt,Punjab,Rajinder Kaur Bhattal
former chief minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal (HT File )

The Punjab and Haryana high court on Tuesday issued a notice to the Punjab government and former chief minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal on a petition demanding recovery of Rs 84.57 lakh from the latter, which was paid back by the government in 2017.

Bhattal had paid this amount to government in December 2016 ahead of state assembly elections to obtain no dues certificate in order to become eligible to contest polls. The amount was paid as penalty, imposed in 2013 for overstay of 15 months at house number 46 in Chandigarh’s Sector 2, adjacent to the official residence of the Punjab chief minister.

Being a minister, the house was allotted to Bhattal in 1992. Later, she retained the house in 1996 on becoming the chief minister. Even as she demitted office in 1999, the house was allotted to her being a former CM, says the petition.

In 2002, when she became the cabinet minister and later the deputy chief minister till 2007, she continued living in the same house. This house remained with her even after change of guard in 2007 as she became the leader of opposition. However, when in March 2012, Sunil Jakhar became the leader of opposition, she was to vacate the house as per rules, the petition states.

The court was told that even as her entitlement ended in March 2012, she continued living in the said house for another 15 months, and vacated it after the high court intervention in 2013. The then Parkash Singh Badal government imposed a penalty of Rs 8.52 lakh per month for overstay, as per the petition. In 2013, she was allotted house number 8 in the same sector.

The court was told that when the Congress came to power last year, she approached for recovery and the government, even after reservation from finance department, readily agreed to refund the penal rent without following proper procedure established by the law. The government had reasoned that the delay was due to reasons beyond her control as she was seeking a secure house being a former CM. Hence, it did not warrant penalty, as per the petition.

The petitioner, Paramjit Singh of Patiala, former district development and panchayat officer, reasoned that refund of the penal rent recovered is violative of provisions of Punjab Public Premises (Eviction & Rent Recovery) Act, 1973. He said the government order should be quashed.

Responses from Bhattal and state government have been sought by December 6.

First Published: Aug 01, 2018 10:16 IST