The Supreme Court on May 7, 2018 struck down a legislation that allowed former Uttar Pradesh Chief Ministers to continue occupying government accommodation even after demitting office.
The ruling was made by a bench of judges headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi. The bench termed the law as "arbitrary and discriminatory", saying it violated the concept of equality under the Constitution.
The apex court stated that once such persons demit public office, there is nothing to distinguish them from the common man. The bench said such bungalows constitute public property which by itself is scarce and meant for use of current holders of public offices.
SC's ruling: Key Highlights
• The apex court struck down Section 4(3) of the Uttar Pradesh Ministers (Salaries, Allowances and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1981, as amended in 2016, allowing former Chief Ministers of the state to be entitled to allotment of government accommodation for their life time.
• The amendment was introduced in 2016 by then Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav's government.
• The top said in its judgement that natural resources, public lands and public goods like government bungalows/official residence are public property, which belongs to the people of the country.
• The court said that the 'Doctrine of Equality' that emerges from the concepts of justice, fairness must guide the state in the allocation of the same.
• The bench stated that the Chief Minister, once he/she demits the office, is at par with the common citizen, though by virtue of the office held, he/she may be entitled to security and other protocols.
• However, the court added that allotment of government bungalow for lifetime would not be guided by the constitutional principle of equality.
Amended Section 4(3) of UP Ministers Act, 1981
The amended Section 4(3) of the 1981 Act recognised former holders of public office as a "special class of citizens".
The Supreme Court held the section as unconstitutional, as it transgresses the equality clause under Article 14 of the Constitution.
• The decision was taken by the top court while hearing a petition filed by NGO Lok Prahari.
• The public interest litigation (PIL) had challenged the decision of the government to allow former Chief Ministers of the state to continue occupying government bungalows even after the completion of their term.
• The apex court had on April 19 reserved its verdict on the NGO's plea challenging amendments to the UP legislation.
• The top court had earlier observed that if the provision, which has been challenged by NGO Lok Prahari, was held invalid, then similar legislation in other states might also come under challenge.
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Who: Supreme Court
What: Strikes down law