New Delhi: Akhilesh Yadav, his father Mulayam Singh Yadav, and Mayawati are among those who stand to lose their right to live in big government bungalows with the Supreme Court today cancelling changes to the law that enabled former chief ministers of Uttar Pradesh to live in official homes for life.
- Rajnath Singh, Mayawati, Mulayam Singh among ex-chief ministers
- Top court had asked the ex-chief ministers to hand over bungalow in 2016
- Local laws benefit ex-chief ministers withhout "reasonableness": court
In its order, the court said former UP chief ministers are not entitled to government bungalows as these are "public property that belongs to the people of the country".
Amendments to a law by the previous Akhilesh Yadav government in 2016 entitled five ex-chief ministers, Rajnath Singh, Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Mayawati and ND Tiwari to government bungalows. The changes were "arbitrary and discriminatory" and violated the concept of equality, the judges said.
"The Chief Minister, once they demit office, is at par with the common citizen, though by virtue of the office held, they may be entitled to security and other protocol. But the allotment of government bungalows, to be occupied during their lifetime, would not be guided by the constitutional principle of equality," they said.
The former chief ministers were allowed to keep the bungalows despite a 1981 law by the Congress government of VP Singh making it necessary for chief ministers to exit within 15 days of leaving office.
Responding to a petition by a non-profit, the court in 2016 ordered the former chief ministers to hand over the bungalows and also pay rent for the period they stayed on without entitlement.
To skirt the order, the Akhilesh Yadav government amended the law and believed it would pass the top court's scrutiny since its objection was technical in nature. Successive governments have tried to hold fast to the privilege that was legal till 1981.
The move helped Mayawati retain her sprawling five-acre, 10-bedroom bungalow in Lucknow made of Rajasthan sandstone and pink marble.
The Supreme Court today said "it is a legislative exercise based on irrelevant and legally unacceptable considerations, unsupported by any constitutional sanctity." The local laws gave these benefits to former chief ministers "without any element of reasonableness", said the judges.