NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court today stayed the Centre's eviction notices to two Congress MPs and ex-ministers, Ambika Soni and Kumari Selja, till July 2 while seeking the government's reply on whether bungalows allotted to them fell under the pool of Rajya Sabha secretariat.
Vacation judge Justice Mukta Gupta issued notice to the Ministry of Urban Development and Directorate of Estates, seeking their reply by July 2 on the plea of the two Rajya Sabha MPs, who have been asked to evict the Type-VIII bungalows alloted to them and move into Type-VII houses.
The court said the sole issue was whether accommodation fell under the general pool or that under the RS secretariat, and observed that pools cannot be "meddled" with.
The two former Cabinet ministers, represented by senior advocate K T S Tulsi, have contended that as per the allotment letter issued to them, they can hold the accommodation for a month after their term as MP expires or after retirement.
Tulsi claimed that the houses fell under RS secretariat pool and the allotment was cancelled without giving them a proper hearing.
Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Sanjay Jain, assisted by central government Standing Counsel Jasmeet Singh, said that as per a 2006 allotment guidelines, Type VIII bungalows are only alloted to persons who are a former Speaker and have been a former Union minister, a former governor or a former chief minister.
The ASG said the two RS MPs were eligible only for a Type VII accommodation which has been alloted to them and added that the entire proceeding prior to eviction notice was carried out as per the Public Premises Act.
He also said that four Union Ministers currently do not have Type VIII accommodation and are living in Type VII flats.
He further said Ram Shankar Katheria, Minister of State for Human Resources and Development, and Chaudhary Birender Singh, Union Minister of Rural Development, Panchayati Raj, Sanitation and Drinking Water, have been alloted the bungalows which were currently being occupied by the two RS MPs.
The government also contended that allotment to the two RS MPs made just before the UPA-II regime went out of power, was not valid as they had to apply for allotment after they ceased to be Union ministers.