Their show of strength, demand for memorial violate apex court order too
GN Bureau | September 18, 2014
Former union minister Ajit Singh has not only refused to vacate his official bungalow, but also unleashed his supporters on the national capital region (NCR) in protest. Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda has meanwhile written to the government, objecting to the eviction order and demanding that the bungalow be converted into a memorial to Ajit’s father and former prime minister Chaudhary Charan Singh.
On Thursday afternoon, protesters from Ajit’s Rashtriya Lok Dal gathered near the Hindan canal in Ghaziabad, threatening to cut water supply to Delhi while the police tried to stop them.
The two veteran political leaders are trying to use the eviction order to consolidate the Jat votes behind them: Ajit lost the support of the community in the Lok Sabha elections, as the BJP made inroads post communal violence in Muzaffarnagar. Hooda, on the other hand, is banking on the crucial Jat vote ahead of the assembly elections next month. These are, thus, their compulsions.
What neither is mentioning is the simple basic fact: why is Ajit not vacating the 12, Tughlaq Road bungalow more than three months after his loss in elections? He is neither a minister nor an MP, and he has no justification in occupying that place. In his letter to urban development minister M Venkaiah Naidu, Hooda has even gone on to allege that the eviction order and the move to cut water and power supply was “an unceremonious and discourteous act” (which, though, would be a mild way of describing the scenes in Ghaziabad).
Not only is it unfair on Ajit’s part to stay put, it is also plain illegal, going by the supreme court judgment. On July 5, 2013, in the matter ‘SD Bandi vs. divisional traffic officer, KSRTC & others’ (civil appeal number 4064 of 2004), the apex court had reiterated the need to implement Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, 1971. The bench of Justice P Sathasivam and Justice Ranjan Gogoi had observed, “…the unauthorized occupants must appreciate that their act of overstaying in the premise directly infringes the right of another.”
By the way, Hooda should take note of the fact that among the “suggestions” made in the verdict, the bench says, “Henceforth, no memorials should be allowed in future in any government houses earmarked for residential accommodation.” A memorial to Charan Singh should be welcome, but it is not clear why it should come up right where his son is illegally staying and right when he receives the eviction order.
The bench had also noted, “No law or directions can entirely control this act of disobedience but for the self-realisation among the unauthorised occupants.” Is it too much to expect this self-realisation from this unauthorised occupant?
If it was needed at all, the supreme court has cleared the air. The Lokpal Act, it has ruled, is perfectly implementable even without the pending amendments. The interpretation from the apex court is welcome, but the government does not seem to be in any hurry to appoint the ombudsman in the first place.
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