India

Relief For Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Over Government Bungalow Rent Dues

Relief For Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Over Government Bungalow Rent Dues

Ramesh Pokhriyal had gone to the High Court requesting that the rent dues be reviewed.

New Delhi:

The Supreme Court today put on hold contempt action against Union Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank for not paying rent for his government bungalow in Uttarakhand, where former chief ministers enjoyed life-time benefits until a High Court order last year.

Mr Pokhriyal had challenged the Uttarakhand High Court order that asked former Chief Ministers of the state to pay rent at market rates for the government bungalows they occupy.

A bench headed by Justice Rohinton F Nariman also issued notice to the Uttarakhand government.

In May last year, the Uttarakhand High Court had declared the state government's orders on free housing and other facilities for life to former Chief Ministers illegal and unconstitutional.

The former Chief Ministers, including Mr Pokhriyal, were asked to pay their rent at market rates, amounting to Rs 2.8 crore, within six months.

They were also told that they had to clear various expenses worth Rs 13 crore, which included water, electricity and phone bills and money spent on travel, fuel and salary of staff members.

Mr Pokhriyal had gone to the High Court requesting that the rent dues be reviewed as he was not in a position to pay.

Apart from him, the other Chief Ministers asked to pay market rent were ND Tiwari (who died in 2018), Bhagat Singh Koshiyari, BC Khanduri and Vijay Bahuguna.

When the ex Chief Ministers failed to pay their dues within the deadline, the High Court started contempt proceedings.

In August, the High Court issued show-cause notices to three former chief ministers including Mr Pokhriyal and Mr Koshyari, now Maharashtra Governor.