Dehradun, May 3 (IANS) The Uttarakhand High Court on Friday declared all government facilities including palatial houses to former Chief Ministers of the hill state as “illegal and unconstitutional”.
A division bench of the high court comprising Chief Justice Ramesh Ranganathan and Justice Ramesh Chandra Khulbe also asked all the former Chief Ministers to pay rent of such houses as per market rates.
“Passing the final judgement on a PIL of social activist Avadash Kaushal, the high court declared all the government facilities provided to ex-Chief Ministers in the state since 2001 as illegal and unconstitutional,” petitioner’s counsel Kartikeya Hari Gupta said.
The court has directed that the money due and payable for availing amenities like electricity, water and petrol provided by the state government to the former Chief Ministers be computed by the state government within four months and the occupants intimated to pay such amounts within six months to the government.
In case they do not pay up within the specified period, the state government can initiate recovery proceedings against them, the court said.
The order applies to all former Chief Ministers who have been made respondents in the case, the petitioner’s lawyer said.
The court, however, did not pass any orders against former Chief Minister N.D. Tiwari who died last year but has left the option open to the state government to recover all pending amounts from his heirs, Gupta said.
The court also took strong exception to former Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna passing orders while in office for post-retirement benefits for himself.
“(The action of) former Chief Minister (Bahuguna) shows the state executive in poor light. That such acts have been permitted to prevail and have gone unchecked is undoubtedly a matter of grave concern,” the court said.
An amount of Rs 13 crore is due on a host of former Chief Ministers including some senior BJP leaders such as B.C. Khanduri and Bhagat Singh Koshiyari.