No lifetime bungalows for former chief ministers of Bihar, rules Patna High Court; five ex-CMs to be affected

The HC had taken suo moto cognisance of the Bihar Special Security Group (Amendment) Act, 2010 that had allowed the former CMs to occupy official bungalows free of cost for lifetime.

Published: 19th February 2019 05:39 PM  |   Last Updated: 19th February 2019 06:09 PM   |  A+A-

Patna High Court

File photo of Patna High Court (Photo| PTI)

Express News Service

PATNA: Former chief ministers of Bihar cannot occupy official bungalows for lifetime, Patna High Court ruled on Tuesday after terming an amended provision in state law as unconstitutional and scraping it.

The HC order would affect five former chief ministers – Satish Prasad Singh (CM for three days in 1968), Dr Jagannath Mishra (1975-77, 1980-83 and 1989-90), Jitan Ram Manjhi (CM for nine months in 2014-15), Rabri Devi and her husband Lalu Prasad Yadav (1990-2005) – who have been allotted plush government bungalows for life in Patna.

Current Chief Minister Nitish Kumar would also be partially affected by the verdict as he also was allotted an additional bungalow in Patna apart from the official CM’s residence that he has been occupying since 2005. Days after the HC sought the former CMs’ responses on the issue last month, the state government had allotted the second bungalow occupied by Kumar, who is into his third term as CM, to the chief secretary.

The HC had taken suo moto cognisance of the Bihar Special Security Group (Amendment) Act, 2010 that had allowed the former CMs to occupy official bungalows free of cost for lifetime.

After hearing the responses of the state government and the former CMs, a Bench of Chief Justice Amreshwar Pratap Sahi and Justice Anjana Mishra passed the order, which effectively asks the former chief ministers to vacate their bungalows immediately.

“The high court’s ruling has come in light of the Supreme Court’s scraping of a provision in Uttar Pradesh to provide lifetime accommodation to former CMs. The HC scrapped the amendment in the Bihar law made in 2010, said Bihar’s advocate general Lalit Kishore. The state government would decide its next step after perusing the HC order, he added.

As per the HC order, the former CMs can be allotted bungalows in Patna as per law if they happen to be a legislator in either of the two Houses of the state legislature. Among the former CMs, Rabri Devi is an MLC while Jitan Ram Manjhi is an MLA.

“We respect the high court’s decision and act accordingly. We will decide on the next step after consulting with our lawyers,” said RJD legislator Bhola Yadav, a close aide of jailed party chief and former CM Lalu Prasad Yadav.

Jitan Ram Manjhi said he would vacate the bungalow he has been occupying immediately as per the HC ruling. “I would like that the government allots the present bungalow to me in my capacity as a sitting MLA. I also think the state government should challenge the high court’s ruling in the Supreme Court,” he said.

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