In a setback for AAP Rajya Sabha MP Raghav Chadha, a Delhi court has ruled that he has no right to continue to occupy the government bungalow given to him after the allotment was cancelled. The court has lifted the interim stay granted to Mr Chadha, which means that the Rajya Sabha Secretariat can ask him to vacate the bungalow anytime.
In a statement released after the court order, the AAP leader termed the cancellation of the allotment arbitrary and unprecedented, and alleged that it was done at the “dictates of the BJP to further their political motives and vested interest”. He also pointed to several other first-time MPs living in such accommodations and said that he will be taking “appropriate legal action”.
Mr Chadha was given a Type 6 bungalow in July last year and had requested the Rajya Sabha Chairman for a bigger, Type 7 accommodation, which was allotted to him in September that year. In March, however, the secretariat had cancelled the allotment, arguing that the first-time MP was not entitled to a bungalow of that grade.
The AAP MP was asked to vacate the bungalow, which is in central Delhi’s Pandara Road, and had moved Delhi’s Patiala House court against the order. The court had granted an interim stay on April 18.
Lifting the stay on Friday, the Patiala House court said Mr Chadha could not claim an absolute right to occupy the bungalow.
“Plaintiff cannot claim that he has an absolute right to continue to occupy the accommodation during his entire tenure as a Member of Rajya Sabha. The allotment of Government accommodation is only a privilege given to the plaintiff and he has no vested right to continue to occupy the same even after the cancellation of allotment,” the court said in its order.
The judge remarked that the argument that the allotment, once made, cannot be cancelled under any circumstances during the MP’s entire tenure “deserves rejection”. The court also pointed out that, as a Member of Parliament, Mr Chadha has no vested right in the accommodation and his status was similar to that of a licensee.
‘Above His Grade’
In June, the Rajya Sabha housing committee had said that the Type 7 bungalow was above Mr Chadha’s grade as a first-time MP and that such accommodations are usually assigned to former Union Ministers, former governors or former chief ministers.
The head of the committee had also pointed out that BJP MP Radha Mohan Das had been moved from a Type 7 to a Type 5 bungalow as well.
In a statement, Mr Chadha said he has been wrongfully targeted and victimised, and slammed the BJP for trying to stifle political criticism from MPs like him.
“The cancellation of my duly allotted official accommodation was arbitrary without any notice to me. It is unprecedented in more than 70 years of history of the Rajya Sabha that a sitting Rajya Sabha member is sought to be removed from his duly allotted accommodation where he has been residing for a while and more than 4 years of his tenure are still remaining,” the AAP leader said.
Mr Chadha claimed there were many irregularities in the order and that the steps taken by the Rajya Sabha Secretariat were in clear contravention of rules and regulations.
Hitting out at the BJP, the MP said, “The manner of the entire exercise leaves me with no option but to believe that these have been carried out at the dictates of BJP to further their political motives and vested interest in order to scuttle and stifle the political criticism raised by vocal parliamentarians like me.”
“This, along with my suspension as a Member of Parliament, which was initiated by the treasury benches, leaves no doubt that the BJP is leaving no stone unturned to target vocal Members of Parliament. This amounts to unwarranted interference in the due discharge of their functions as the Representatives of the House and hits a rock bottom of vendetta politics,” he added.
To buttress his claim, Mr Chadha pointed out that many of his neighbours were first-time MPs who had been allotted the exact same accommodation above their entitlement. He took the names of Sudhanshu Trivedi of the BJP, Danish Ali of the Bahujan Samaj Party, Rakesh Sinha and former MP Roopa Ganguly, who was the previous occupant of the bungalow that had been allotted to him.
“Interestingly, about 118 out of 240 Rajya Sabha Members are living in accommodations above their entitlement but selectively targeting and interfering with vocal representatives, who are giving a strong opposition to BJP on the floor of the house and maintaining a healthy democracy, is a sorry state of affairs for the nation,” the MP rued.
“The trial court had initially accepted my plea and granted me interim relief. It has now returned my case on a legal technicality, which I am legally advised to state is based on an incorrect understanding of the law. I will be taking appropriate action in law in due course. Needless to state, I will continue to raise the voice of people of Punjab and India fearlessly, irrespective of the costs involved,” he added.