Vajpayee, Manmohan Singh, Pranab Mukherjee to lose official accommodation?

08 Jan 2018 | By Anupama Vijayakumar
Should former- public office holders get free accommodation?

Former-presidents Pratibha Patil and Pranab Mukherjee as well as former-PMs Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh may soon have to vacate their official residences in Delhi.

The uncertainty comes as the Supreme Court is set to rule on a petition challenging a UP government law that allows official accommodations to former-CMs, on January 16.

Why is this ruling significant? Read on to know.

In context: Should former- public office holders get free accommodation?

23 Aug 2017SC mulls on whether former-UP CMs should get government accommodation

On 23 August, 2017, a two-judge SC bench ruled on a PIL filed by UP-based NGO Lok Prahari challenging a UP government law which allowed former-CMs to receive government residences.

The bench noted that the matter "is of public importance" and stated it's relevant for similar legislation in other states.

It appointed former-Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium as amicus curiae to submit his recommendations.

08 Jan 2018Vajpayee, Manmohan Singh, Pranab Mukherjee to lose official accommodation?

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What has Gopal Subramanium recommended?

What?What has Gopal Subramanium recommended?

Subramanium stated that after holders of constitutional posts serve their term, they revert to being private citizens and therefore aren't entitled to official housing.

Once the office is demitted.... a person ought to be granted no greater privilege than that afforded to other citizens of India, except for the minimal courtesies of protocol, pension and other regular post-retirement benefits," he added.

Accommodation to former public office holders violates Right to Equality

"Public property is not to be frittered away to private citizens, notwithstanding the high offices they may have previously occupied. Any provision of law that grants accommodation to the 'former' holders of public office violates Right to Equality under the Constitution," Subramanium stated.

ConclusionWhat happens if SC accepts Subramanium's suggestions?

If the SC approves of his suggestions former constitutional office bearers, including CMs, PMs and Presidents won't be entitled to a residence provided by the government.

It could also apply to accommodation provided to "widows or families of former holders of public office which are often handed over to foundations or turned into memorials.