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Article 370 gone: Azad vacates life time rent free home, others to follow suit

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New Delhi, Oct 29: The abrogation of Article 370 has started taking effect. The rent free bungalow allocated to politicians in the Valley will have to be vacated as J&K no longer enjoys a special status.

Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad has vacated his rent free government accommodation at the VVIP zone in Srinagar. Azad a former CM of J&K had retuned the J&K Bank guest house on Gupkar Road. This would now mean that both Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah too would have to vacate their homes on Gupkar Road by November 1.

Article 370 gone: Azad vacates life time rent free home, others to follow suit

Officials say that only separatism grew under a special status and now by making J&K a part of the Union, Indianness would grow. Under special status and protection, many have made merry and investigations by the National Investigation Agency suggests that the separatists in particular led lavish lifestyles, educated their children abroad and pocketed a large amount of money that was pumped in to create unrest.

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So far, former CMs and politicians had protection from a Supreme Court order that said that those who occupy constitutional posts do not have a right over the official bungalow for life.

With Article 370 gone, former CMs and politicians will fall under the purview of the Supreme Court order. This means that the government of India can order them to vacate their bungalows.

Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, both reside at official bungalows. Both of them have spent nearly Rs 50 crore in renovating their bungalows, says a Times of India report.

In addition to the lavish bungalows, the former CMs also enjoy a host of other perks.

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Section 3C(e) and (F), which were incorporated into the State Legislature Members' Pension Act state that, "notwithstanding anything contained in this act, a member who is entitled to pension under this act and who has served as chief minister of the state, shall be entitled to car, petrol, medical facilities, driver, rent-free furnished accommodation, expenditure to the limit of Rs 35,000 per annum for furnishing of the residential accommodation, free telephone calls up to the value of Rs 48,000 per annum, (and) free electricity to the extent of Rs 1500 per month."

It may be recalled that in May 2018, the Supreme Court had quashed an order of the Uttar Pradesh government that had said that all former CMs are guaranteed an official bungalow for life. Owing to the special status, Jammu and Kashmir remained immune from the verdict and the former CMs continue to live in their official bungalows rent free.

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