SC order on bunglows: UP govt looking for an escape route
Lucknow: The government is for the masses. It has to serve the interest of the majority and not that of a small group. This is what legal luminaries who are well-versed with the Indian constitution have said time and again. It has often fallen on deaf ears of the governments at the Centre and in the state. The 1986 much-publicised Shah Bano case marked a watershed.
Thirty years is a long period for a state or a nation. But no change has been noticed in the action of at least the Uttar Pradesh government. The Supreme Court had rightly ordered that former chief ministers and some others who were occupying government houses should vacate them within two months. The Court, as laid down, in the constitution has to see that any decision that the government takes should not favour certain individuals and groups. So, this order has a valid point .
These accommodations were provided to certain individuals and groups and not to general people, through a rule framed by the state government. The beneficiaries are politicians, officials, journalists , employee organizations and trusts in violation of the spirit of the constitution. The political class which has no dearth of money can easily find an alternative. But no, they would not do and misuse their powers and privileges. The worse part of the story is that they have got state government’s support.
It has two proposals to negate the Court’s order. The first is to go for revision of the order and, the second, to bring out a legislation in the state assembly during the next session to ensure that these privileged group of people are not disturbed. Such a legislation is unlikely to be opposed by non-ruling parties in the House for it suits them too.
Sprawling bungalows have not been allotted only to former chief ministers who hailed from the ruling Samajwady Party but also who belonged to other major parties—the Congress, the BSP and the BJP. Those who are enjoying government facilities are: Ram Naresh Yadav, ND Tewari , Vir Bahadur Singh( all Congress) Kalyan Singh, Rajnath Singh(both BJP) and Mayawati (BSP). The first two beneficiaries have been governors of Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh, respectively. On the other hand, Kalyan is the governor of Rajasthan and Rajnath Singh, Union home minister, at present.
From the list it clear that all the major parties have benefitted from the government’s largesse. Since members these parties constitute a majority in the assembly the government will not find it difficult to get it through, whatever may be the reaction of the people in general. But it is likely to go for this option after its revision petition is either rejected and approved with some changes.
This also suggests that the government is not going to honour the Court’s verdict, although every politician claims that Supreme Court is supreme and that he will abide by the courts’ order. In this background one can only say that the governments or the political leaders stick to it as long as the order is to their liking.
The first major confrontation between the judiciary and the government was witnessed in Shah Bano’s case. Her demand was simple after she was divorced: pay maintenance allowance to help make a living. The Supreme Court found the demand reasonable .
But to some orthodox Muslims it amounted to interference in their personal law and , therefore, they raised much and cry over it. The then government at the Centre instead of supporting the suffering woman amended the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act which had provided for the maintenance. They made the change largely to appease the orthodox Muslims. For, the Court had asked to pay maintenance allowance only during the Iddat period ( three months) and not during her life time.
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Since then the governments at the Centre and in the states have tried escape routes in several cases. The Uttar Pradesh government’s current move will go down in the history as another case of confrontation.