DEHRADUN: Uttarakhand high court on Monday while hearing a petition challenging an ordinance which legalizes providing facilities to ex-Chief Ministers of Uttarakhand such as a government-funded bungalow, vehicles, driver and other staff along with various other perks issued notices to four ex-CMs including newly appointed governor of Maharashtra, Bhagat Singh Koshyari and union Human Resources development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank'.
Kartikey Hari Gupta, counsel for the petitioner said, "The honourable court issued notices to ex-CMs Vijay Bahuguna, BC Khanduri, union minister and ex-CM 'Nishank' and former CM and governor of Maharastra BS Koshyari. The court also directed the state government to submit reply on the constitutionality of
the ordinance within three weeks."
The petitioner argued that the governor of Uttarakhand had no such legislative power to pass this ordinance with the sole purpose of overruling the effect of the judgment of this court.
The petitioner further requested the court to hear the matter most urgently citing that huge public money is involved, after which the court listed the matter on October 14, 2019, for the next hearing.
A non-government organization known as Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra (RLEK) through its chairman Avdhash Kaushal stated that the ordinance is illegal and unconstitutional.
Earlier, on September 5, 2019, Uttarakhand government in a move to nullify Uttarakhand high court’s directions regarding facilities to ex-chief ministers got the approval of the governor of Uttarakhand on the ordinance.
The ordinance titled 'The Uttarakhand Former Chief Minister Facility (Residential and Other Facilities) Ordinance 2019' was provided assent by governor Baby Rani Maurya.
On May 3, 2019, in an unprecedented move, the HC had declared all government orders providing housing and other facilities to ex-chief ministers in Uttarakhand state as illegal and unconstitutional from the year 2001 till date.
The data collated by the petitioner through RTI query stated that the pending rent of five ex-CMs has been calculated by the state government itself.
The petitioner stated that highest pending rent is of ND Tiwari (who passed away last year) which is Rs1.12 crore followed by BS Koshayri with Rs 47.57 lakh, BC Khanduri Rs 46.59 lakh, Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank Rs 40.95 lakh and Vijay Bahuguna Rs 37.50 lakh.
Apart from rent, these ex-CMs also have Rs 13 crore pending in miscellaneous expenses including fuel for vehicles they use provided by public money, electricity, phone bill, the salary of staff, travel bills and other expenses.
Expenses other than rent by Bhagat Singh Koshyari include over Rs 3 crore followed by BC Khanduri (Rs 2.8 crore), ND Tiwari (Rs 2.3 crore), Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank (Rs 2.1 crore) and Vijay Bahuguna (Rs 1.1 crore). Former CM Nityanand Swami who is no more now also has Rs 1.5 lakh pending in these expenses.
Later, on August 7 2019, the HC dismissed review petition filed by former chief ministers Vijay Bahuguna and Bhagat Singh Koshyari against its May 2019 order to recover pending bungalows which were allocated to these ex-CMs after evicting the office of the CM of Uttarakhand.