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Former Uttarakhand CMs likely to be asked for unpaid rent for official houses

Former Uttarakhand CMs likely to be asked for unpaid rent for official houses
The petitioner had raised objections to the "meagre" rent paid by former chief ministers Vijay Bahuguna and Ramesh Pokhrial Nishank.

The Uttarakhand High Court on Wednesday expressed dismay at the state government's decision to give rent waiver to former chief ministers who had occupied government accommodations for years together after demitting office. Hearing a PIL, the division bench of Chief Justice Ramesh Ranganathan and Justice R C Khulbe expressed surprise and dismay when the Advocate General informed the court that the government of Uttarakhand had decided to waive all the unpaid rent of the former chief ministers and amounts spent on extending other facilities to them, petitioner's counsel Kartikeya Hari Gupta said.

The petitioner had raised objections to the "meagre" rent paid by former chief ministers Vijay Bahuguna and Ramesh Pokhrial Nishank. The petitioner also pointed out that their payment was not in accordance with the Supreme Court order which directed the recovery of "appropriate rent" and also a previous order of the Uttarakhand High Court asking the state government to calculate the "market rent" which this government has not calculated till date.

The rent calculation has been done illegally and on the basis of one government order of the year 2004 and on the basis of 1997 rules which have already been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, the petitioner's advocate said. The court had examined the method of rent calculation done by the state government and expressed surprise on how the government could calculate rent on the basis of a 2004 government order.

The court had also observed that the dues were public money and it must be recovered from the offenders. In a supplementary affidavit filed by the state on Wednesday, it was claimed that the amounts were being waived but it had no mention of any government order waiving off the pending amount, Gupta said. The matter will be heard by the high court on Thursday.

(With inputs from agencies.)

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