By Arun Pratap Singh
Dehradun, 6 Sep: Uttarakhand Government’ controversial ordinance restoring facilities of accommodation, vehicles and some staff to former Chief Ministers is now facing a legal hurdle. Leading activist of Uttarakhand, Avdhash Kaushal, who had in the past successfully challenged the grant of facilities to former chief ministers, has again filed a PIL against the fresh ordinance issued by the Trivendra Singh Rawat Government. It may be recalled that former chief ministers ND Tiwari, Bhagat Singh Koshiyari, BC Khanduri, RP Nishank and Vijay Bahuguna had been availing facilities granted by the government to former CMs which included government accommodation, vehicle along with driver, and some other staff. However, it was successfully challenged by Avdhash Kaushal and the Uttarakhand High Court had not only quashed the facilities granted to them but also asked them to pay rent at market rate for the period they availed of the facilities. All the repeated pleas by the former CMs yielded nothing and the High Court remained adamant on recovery of dues from them. Following this, the state government had recently brought an ordinance with retrospective effect (9 November, 2000) that the former CMs would be entitled to these facilities though only till 31 March, 2019, following which these facilities would not be available to them. The notification further stated that, in future, no former CM would be entitled to these facilities. The ordinance was approved by Governor Baby Rani Maurya, yesterday. Hence, this ordinance appears to be basically intending to allow waiver to former CMs of the rents and dues ordered by Uttarakhand High Court till now. Under this ordinance, they would not be required anymore to pay the dues ordered by the High Court. Now, this has been challenged by Kaushal, who claims that the ordinance was not justified and has no legal basis, as the High Court had already refused any waiver of the dues to be paid by the former CMs. The PIL has been filed today and is expected to come up for hearing soon!