A Rajasthan law that allowed former chief ministers to live in government bungalows for the rest of their lives has been struck down by the Rajasthan High Court.
The amendment to the Rajasthan Ministers Salaries Bill 2017, passed when Vasundhara Raje was Chief Minister, entitled former chief ministers not only to government bungalows, but also gave them phone facilities, drivers, personal secretaries and a staff of 10 people, all at government expense that cost the state exchequer Rs 22 lakh annually.
The court struck down the amendments as illegal today, saying, "The extension of these facilities to former chief ministers, regardless of whether they had tenure of five years or less, is abhorrent to the principal of equality."
The court, quoting British novelist George Orwell, said, "One is reminded of George Orwell's portrayal of a distorted meaning of equality in his much celebrated animal farm - that all animals are born equal but some are more equal than others ..."
Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said the government will decide on allotting Ms Raje a bungalow based on its policy of taking seniority into account.
Vasundhara Raje, who had 13 Civil Lines allotted to herself before she lost the elections in 2008, will also now have to vacate her government bungalow, according to the court order. Ms Raje continued to live in 13 Civil Lines, a bungalow she titled "Anant Vijai", even after she became chief minister for the second time in December 2013. She stepped down as chief minister after the BJP lost Rajasthan to Congress last year.
The other former chief minister who will have to vacate his bungalow is Jagannath Pahadia, who was chief minister from 1980-81.
The petitioner in this case, Milap Chand Dandiya, had argued that chief ministers once they remit office should not be allowed such facilities.
The Supreme Court had already passed an order last year in context of Uttar Pradesh, where bungalows given to former Chief Ministers Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav were declared as illegal.