HC suspends eviction orders on Ambika Soni, Selja

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New Delhi, June 5: The Delhi High Court on Friday suspended till July 2 the eviction orders issued to Congress MPs and former ministers Ambika Soni and Kumari Selja to vacate their government bungalows by June 10.

Justice Mukta Gupta also issued notice to the central government, the urban development ministry's Directorate of Estates and the Rajya Sabha Secretariat and asked for their reply by July 2 on the the two Congress MPs' plea challenging the eviction orders.

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"Till the next date of hearing (July 2), the operation of eviction order of May 25 is stayed," said the court.

Soni and Selja are staying in 22, Akbar Road and 7, Motilal Nehru Marg. These Type VIII government bungalows were allotted to them when they were ministers in the previous UPA government.

Senior advocate K.T.S. Tulsi, appearing for both Soni and Selja, who are now Rajya Sabha members, accused the BJP-led central government of "mala fide intention against members of opposition" for asking them to shift from Type VIII accommodation to Type VII.

Tulsi contended that as per the allotment letter issued to them, they can hold the accommodation for one month after their term as parliament member expires or after retirement.

"The eviction orders were guided by mala fide intentions of the ruling establishment against the members of the opposition in parliament," he said, adding that the bungalows were allotted to these MPs from the Rajya Sabha housing pool and the urban development ministry has no role to intervene in such issues.

He claimed that the allotment was cancelled without giving them a proper hearing.

"If the ministry cancels the bungalows allotted to the Rajya Sabha house members, then the whole purpose of house pool is defeated," said the advocate.

The Directorate of Estates issued notice to the two ministers asking them to vacate the government bungalows by June 10 and shift to the accommodation allotted to them, which they refused to accept.

Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain appearing for the central government told the court there was an acute "shortage of accommodation" in the general pool and MPs were not entitled to Type-VIII houses.

"Four of our union ministers don't have Type VIII accommodation and are living in Type VII accommodation," Jain said.

The plea filed by the two ex-ministers said: "Senior parliamentarians, who have held office as a union cabinet minister, or chief minister of a state or a governor or speaker of the Lok Sabha, amongst others, are eligible according to the policy published on the website of the Rajya Sabha and have been allowed to continue in the Type VIII houses under the respective house pool."

IANS

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