The Uttarakhand High Court Thursday began hearing a petition challenging an ordinance that exempted politicians from paying the market rent for government bungalows allocated to them as ex-chief ministers.
Last week, Uttarakhand Governor Baby Rani Maurya promulgated the ordinance exempting former chief ministers from paying the high rent.
The ordinance came as relief to former chief ministers -- Bhagat Singh Koshyari, late N D Tiwari, Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, Bhuwan Chandra Khanduri and Vijay Bahuguna -- who were required to shell out a total of Rs 13 crore to the state government as per an Uttrakhand High Court order.
Arguing on behalf of the petitioner, an NGO run by social activist Avdhash Kaushal, its counsel termed the ordinance unconstitutional.
In the PIL heard by Chief Justice Ramesh Ranganathan and Justice Alok Kumar Verma, he said the ordinance was promulgated with the sole purpose of overruling the high court judgement.
"This kind of legislative power is not available to the legislature. They cannot pass a law just to overrule the judgment of the court," lawyer Kartikeya Hari Gupta argued.
The PIL has been posted for further hearing on Monday, Gupta said.
Uttarakhand Governor gave her assent last week to the ordinance approved by the state cabinet in August.
The state cabinet's decision had followed a high court order that declared the allotment of government accommodation to former chief ministers "illegal" and asked them to vacate the bungalows within six months.
They were asked to pay the higher rent for the entire period they had occupied the bungalows.
Avdhash Kaushal had filed the PIL which led to that order.
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