Squatting netas get a Modi kick
Published: 19th May 2017 04:00 AM |
The amendments to the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act announced Wednesday is a step in the right direction. For too long, our babus, MPs and MLAs have been holding on to their government accommodation even after retiring or losing their seats, as if they were lifetime entitlements. When challenged, they would move court, knowing it would take years to get resolved. This meant their successors either had to be allotted new houses, or put up in fancy hotels.
Last year, a RTI reply revealed that as many as 60 MPs owed close to `1 crore as rental charges for overstaying in government accommodation long after leaving office. And that’s just parliamentarians. According to a report, over 70 officials have moved the courts and continue to occupy government premises even two years after losing their right to stay there. These include several former ministers and senior Congress leaders like Ambika Soni and Kumari Selja. Till now, the rules stipulated that a minister who has lost his seat can stay on without paying for a month.
After that, the urban development ministry usually took over a couple of months to initiate eviction proceedings, giving the minister enough time to get a court stay. But now, after the amendments okayed at a Cabinet meeting chaired by PM Modi, estate officers can evict such people within just three days of their overstay if they are not satisfied with their appeal for extension. “… If such persons ... fail to comply with the said order of eviction, estate officer may evict them ... and may, for that purpose, use such force as may be necessary.”
More importantly, the changes prohibit such occupants from moving any court below the high court with their appeals for overstay. And in case they still want to hang on, they will have to pay steep penalties. For instance, anyone overstaying beyond five months will be fined `10 lakh. The Centre now needs to start the eviction process quickly before our lawmakers find ways to circumvent the new ruling.