In a major setback to all the former chief ministers of Bihar, the Patna High Court on Tuesday asked them to vacate government bungalows allotted to them for lifetime.
A division bench of the HC, headed by Chief Justice AP Shahi, said that occupying government bungalow in the name of former chief minister was “an unconstitutional act and a drain on the exchequer.”
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who stays in CM’s official residence – 1, Aney Marg, has already vacated his another bungalow at 7, Circular Road, last month. This bungalow was allotted to him in his capacity as former CM (when Jitan Ram Manjhi was Chief Minister of Bihar in 2014-15).
However, there are four other former chief ministers who will have to comply with the court order and vacate their plush bungalow. This includes Rabri Devi, Dr Jagannath Mishra, Jitan Ram Manjhi and Satish Prasad Singh.
The HC order is applicable to former chief Minister Lalu Prasad too, but he always stayed at his wife’s official residence – 10, Circular Road.
“We will go through the court order and abide by the HC directive,” said Bhola Yadav, close aide of Lalu-Rabri.
Last month, an HC bench headed by Chief Justice A P Shahi and Justice Anjana Mishra had observed that the very concept of retention of public premises for lifetime had been deprecated and such provisions struck down as ultra vires by the Supreme Court.
Serving notices to former CMs - Rabri Devi, Lalu Prasad, Dr Jagannath Mishra, Jitan Ram Manjhi and Satish Prasad Singh, the High Court wondered why Nitish Kumar was allotted a separate bungalow at 7, Circular Road (in his capacity as former CM) when he was already living at CM’s official residence 1, Aney Marg, in his capacity as chief minister.
Nitish hurriedly vacated the bungalow, which has now been allotted to Bihar chief secretary.