New Delhi (ILNS): The Supreme Court of India today stayed contempt proceedings pending in the Uttarakhand High Court against former chief ministers who are staying in government bungalows and have not started paying rent yet.
A three-judge bench comprising Justices Rohinton Fali Nariman, Navin Sinha and Hrishikesh Roy, while hearing the plea through video conferencing, issued a notice on the petition and tagged the matter with other similar petitions.
The petition has been filed by Union Minister Ramesh Pokhariyal Nishank, challenging the Uttarakhand High Court order directing former chief ministers to pay rent for the government bungalows.
The impugned order came after the high court’s judgment struck down the law introduced by the Uttarakhand state government, allowing free occupation of government bungalows by former chief ministers. The act is the Uttarakhand Former Chief Ministers Facility (Residential and other facilities) Act, 2019.
The high court had directed the former chief ministers to clear pending house rent amounting to Rs 2.8 crores within six months stating that “…pay the market rent, as detailed in the affidavit for the buildings occupied by them as ex-chief ministers, within six months from the date of the order, failing which the state government was directed to forthwith initiate appropriate legal proceedings, including under the provisions of the Uttar Pradesh Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, 1972.”
The High Court had further stated that “Courts would be shirking their responsibility if they hesitate to declare the provisions of a Statute unconstitutional, where the provisions are found to be in violation of any Articles of Part III or any other provision of the Constitution.”