New Delhi, Dec 8 : The Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed a contempt of court notice issued by the Uttarakhand High Court to Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari for not paying market rent for a government bungalow allocated to him in his native state.
A bench comprising Justices RF Nariman, KM Joseph and Krishna Murari issued notice to the Uttarakhand government and tagged the petition with the pending plea, which challenged the basis at which the market rent was deduced by the High Court.
Koshyari moved the Supreme Court to challenge the HC notice issued on a plea for initiating contempt proceeding against him for his alleged failure to follow order to pay market rent for the government bungalow when he ceased to be the Chief Minister.
Two other former Chief Ministers as well as the Uttarakhand government have already moved the top court against the High Court order. The top court had issued notice on these pleas as well and stayed the contempt proceedings pending before the High Court.
Koshyari, in his petition filed through advocates Ardhendhu Mauli Prasad and Pravesh Thakur, sought a stay on the High Court order. The plea cited Article 361 of the Constitution which provides protection to the President and Governors from any such proceedings.
The plea argued that the market rent determined was exorbitant and arrived at without any rational.
He sought stay on the contempt proceedings as the order was passed without hearing him in the matter. The plea contended that the process of determination of market rent has been arbitrary, discriminatory and violative of the principles of natural justice.
“The determination of exorbitant amount as market rent appears to be penal in nature as compared with the prevailing market rent of similar residences, which has been admittedly determined without affording any opportunity to the petitioner to participate in the process of determination of market rent,” said the plea.
In May last year, the High Court ordered former Chief <inisters of the state to pay market rent for the period they occupied government accommodations after they demitted office.
The High Court had pronounced all government orders since 2001, which provided housing and other facilities to former Chief Ministers, as illegal. The order was passed on a plea by a Dehradun-based NGO which later filed another plea in the High Court to allege non-compliance of its order.
Earlier, in an identical matter, a stay was granted on the contempt proceedings initiated against present Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ for allegedly not complying with the High Court order on the payment of rent for government bungalow in the state.