Patna, January 9: Who doesn’t want to enjoy government benefits? Although the people are entitled to the aids and welfare schemes brought in by the government, the politicians also enjoy certain benefits. Patna High Court on Tuesday issued a notice to the state government taking suo moto cognisance of a law in Bihar that allows former chief ministers to occupy official bungalows for lifetime, asking it to reply in four weeks.
A division bench comprising Chief Justice A P Sahi and Justice Anjana Mishra also sought responses from former chief ministers on the issue of allotment of bungalow for lifetime. The court fixed February 11 as the next date of hearing in the case.
Former Bihar CMs Satish Prasad Singh (CM for three days in 1968), Dr Jagannath Mishra (1975-77, 1980-83 and 1989-90), Jitan Ram Manjhi (CM for nine months in 2014-15), Rabri Devi and her husband Lalu Prasad Yadav (1990-2005) have been allotted plush government bungalows for life in Patna. Rabri Devi and Lalu live in one bungalow at 10, Circular road.
The bench referred to how former chief ministers of Uttar Pradesh had to vacate the government bungalows allotted to them for lifetime following a Supreme Court order in May last year and sought responses from the former chief ministers of Bihar. The Chief Justice expressed surprise that the Bihar government, though it was represented in the SC in the UP case, did not apprise the apex court of the prevalence of a similar practice in the state.
The issue of the former CMs’ residence came up unexpectedly on Monday when the court was hearing a petition filed by Opposition leader Tejashwi Yadav of RJD challenging the government’s order asking him to vacate the bungalow allotted to him when he was deputy chief minister.
A counter-affidavit filed by the state building construction department apprising the court of the provisions of allotment of bungalows prompted the bench to order registration of a suo moto PIL on the issue. Bungalows are allotted to former CMs for lifetime under the Bihar Special Security Group (Amendment) Act, 2010.