New Delhi, January 17 (IANS): The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Centre and the states to respond to a plea that challenged an Uttar Pradesh law wherein former Chief Ministers are allotted a government bungalow.
Expanding the scope of the plea, a bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice R. Bhanumathi asked the Centre and the states to address the court on the issue whether they too have similar laws or executive orders that permit allotment of government accommodation to former Chief Ministers.
Projecting a question of law involved, amicus curiae Gopal Subramanium in his note said whether the right to equality before law guaranteed under Article 14 of the Constitution permits persons to retain government accommodation once they have demitted public office.
Once the President, Prime Minister, Chief Minister, and others cease to hold their respective public offices, they are shorn of all its adornments. He or she reverts to being an ordinary citizen and ought not to be granted greater privilege than those available to other citizens, except for minimal courtesies.
The court was told that if it were to decided against the Uttar Pradesh law, it would have ramification in states having similar provisions.
Referring to Subramanium's views, the court sought to know the stand of the Attorney General and the Solicitor General as well as the Advocate Generals of the states on the issue if they wished to do so.
"We have had the benefit of the views of amicus curiae as to whether, in view of the issues involved and in the event the said issues are to be answered in favour of the petitioner, it would be necessary to hear the Law Officer(s) of the Union Government and the States who may have a similar legislation or executive instructions in force."
The bench asked Subramanium to provide a copy of its order to the office(s) of the Attorney General/Solicitor General and Advocate Generals of the states concerned which may have similar legislations/executive instructions in force.
Noting that the communication of its order and response thereto would take some time, the court directed for next hearing on March 13.
The top court had, on November 15, 2016, issued notice to the Uttar Pradesh government on a plea by NGO Lok Prahari challenging a state law that permits allotment of bungalow to former Chief Ministers on their request.