Rajasthan HC asks former CMs to vacate bungalows

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In a big blow to former Vasundhara Raje government, the Rajasthan High Court on Wednesday declared the amendment to Rajasthan Ministers' Salaries Act, 1956 as "unconstitutional".

On Wednesday, the Rajasthan High Court in its ruling stated that former chief ministers of Rajasthan cannot avail life-long facilities like government bungalow, telephone, and car. While announcing its ruling the HC also called the Rajasthan Ministers' Salaries (Amendment) Act 2017 as "illegal".

The Rajasthan HC ruling came after senior journalist Milapchand Dandiya filed a plea challenging the law that gave life-long facilities to the former CMs. According to the plea, the former chief ministers of Rajasthan are given lifelong facilities such as government bungalow, car, driver, telephone services and a staff of 10.

Under this Act, the former chief ministers, who had governed for five years, were entitled to free bungalows, personal secretaries, stenographers, a grade 1 staff, driver, 3 grade 4 staff for a lifetime.

While announcing the verdict, the division bench of state Chief Justice S Ravindra Bhatt and Justice Prakash Gupta observed that Rajasthan is an economically backward state and such life-long facilities for the former CMSs were a misuse of public funds.

It is to be noted that former BJP MLA Ghanshyam Tiwari who later joined Congress had launched a protest against the then chief minister Vasundhara Raje for not vacating her civil lines bungalow which was not the official residence.

Tiwari sat on a protest outside Raje's residence and alleged that the bill was the ruling government’s attempt to implement “feudalism” in the state and demanded that Raje shift to the CM’s official residence at 8 civil lines. After opposing Raje, he was served notices by the Bharatiya Janta party’s national discipline committee.

At present, Raje is living in Bungalow number 13 that was allotted to her when she was the leader of opposition between 2008-2013. However, later after coming to power in 2013, bungalow no 8 was allotted to her, but she chose to continue to live in the former residence.

At present, former chief ministers Vasundhara Raje and Jagannath Pahadiya are among the former CMs of Rajasthan, who are taking benefits under the law.

In 2018 Supreme Court had quashed a similar bill passed by Uttar Pradesh legislation, which granted permanent accommodation to the state's former chief ministers. In early 2019 Bihar High Court had also quashed a similar rule.

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