HC reserves order on Ambika Soni, Selja's plea against eviction orders
New Delhi, July 2: The Delhi High Court on Thursday reserved orders on pleas filed by Congress members of parliament Ambika Soni and Kumari Selja challenging government orders for them to vacate their official bungalows in the national capital.
Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw reserved the orders after counsels of both the former union ministers as well as the Centre concluded their arguments.
Soni and Selja are staying at 22, Akbar Road, and 7, Motilal Nehru Marg, respectively.
These Type VIII government bungalows were allotted to them when they were ministers in the previous UPA government. After both moved the high court in June against the Centre's eviction orders, the court granted stay on the orders.
Soni and Selja, who are now Rajya Sabha members, accused the BJP-led central government of "mala fide intentions against members of the opposition" for asking them to shift from Type VIII to Type VII accommodation.
Their counsel contended that as per the allotment letter issued to them, the Congress parliamentarians can hold on to the official accommodation for one month after their term as MPs expires or after retirement.
"The eviction orders were guided by mala fide intentions of the ruling establishment against members of the opposition in parliament," the counsel said, adding that the bungalows were allotted to these MPs from the Rajya Sabha housing pool and the urban development ministry had no role for intervening in such issues.
The plea filed by the two ex-ministers said: "Senior parliamentarians, who have held office as union cabinet ministers or chief ministers or governors or speakers of the Lok Sabha, amongst others, are eligible according to the policy published on the Rajya Sabha website and have been allowed to continue in Type VIII houses under the respective house pool."
It claimed that the allotment was cancelled without giving them a proper hearing.
"If the ministry cancels the bungalows allotted to the Rajya Sabha members, then the whole purpose of house pool is defeated," said their counsel.
The Directorate of Estates issued notices to the two ministers, asking them to vacate the government bungalows by June 10 and shift to the alternate accommodations allotted to them, which they refused to accept.
The central government submitted to the court that there was acute "shortage of accommodation" in the general pool and these 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 residences," the government said.