With Article 370 gone, how the lavish lifestyles of the Muftis, Abdullahs are set to end
New Delhi, Aug 07: Article 370 is history now and a new chapter would begin in Jammu and Kashmir. A majority of the country is rejoicing, but the politicians in the Union Territory have cried foul and say that this is the biggest betrayal since the past 70 years.
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.
While separatists would continue to get investigated and the law would reach up to them in due course of time, another interesting aspect would be with regard to the official bungalows that are occupied by the former chief ministers of Jammu and Kashmir.
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.
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.