Source : Bar and Bench
Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari has moved to the Supreme Court challenging the issuance of notice by the Uttarakhand High Court in a contempt petition filed against him for not paying the market rent for a government bungalow allocated to him when he was Chief Minister of the State.
In his plea filed through Advocate AK Prasad, Governor Koshiyari has stated that since he is the Governor of Maharashtra, the bar under Article 361 of the Constitution of India cannot be ignored while issuing notice in a plea seeking contempt action against him.
Article 361 affords protection to the President and Governors of states against legal action before courts. It states:
“Article 361 - Protection of President and Governors and Rajpramukhs.”
In June 2020, the Uttarakhand High Court struck down a law brought in by the state government to validate the free occupation of state-provided bungalows by former Chief Ministers and the illegal expenditure incurred on that account over a 19-year period.
The Act had been brought about to cancel the effect of the May 2019 judgment passed by the High Court where the ex-Chief Ministers were asked to vacate bungalows that they continued to occupy free of cost even after their terms having come to an end.
As per the High Court order, Koshiyari owed Rs. 47.5 lakh in dues after calculation of market value of the residential premises he had occupied when he was Chief Minister.
Koshiyari has submitted,
"The aforesaid amount of market rent has been arrived at without any rational and is highly exorbitant for a residential premises in Dehradun and have been ascertained without affording an opportunity of participation of the petitioner in the process, which renders the process of determination of market rent arbitrary, discriminatory and violative of principle of natural justice."
Senior Advocate Aman Sinha is representing Koshiyari before the Apex Court.