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National

Penalties for ex-RS MPs overstaying in bungalows

July 03, 2020 06:37 AM

COURTESY HT  JULY 3

Penalties for ex-RS MPs overstaying in bungalows
Saubhadra Chatterji

letters@hindustantimes.com

New Delhi : Former Rajya Sabha lawmakers overstaying in official accommodation in plush Lutyens’ Delhi will shell out up to ~10.78 lakh per month as damages, the Upper House of Parliament has decided, to dissuade MPs from illegally occupying valuable accommodation in the heart of Delhi and creating a housing shortage for newcomers.

The decision, taken on June 25, will see various slabs of penalties. The lowest slab would be at least 50% higher than the base rate or license fee of the accommodation given free to MPs during their tenure, an internal circular, a copy of which was seen by HT, said. These penalties will be applicable from August 1.

The move comes a year after Parliament cleared a legislation—Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Amendment Bill, 2019 -- for speedy eviction of unauthorised occupants of government accommodation. The lowest compensation—termed damage for overstaying—would be ~63,500 in the first month for the type V flat, the smallest government accommodation in Lutyens’ Delhi. For each subsequent month, the charges will grow and can reach ~3.17 lakhs for the eighth month, the circular said.

Overstaying in a type VIII bungalow, the biggest and the best, will attract a penalty of ~2.15 lakhs in the first month or 55% of the license fee, according to the same circular. If a former MP continues to stay in a bungalow for eight months without permission, he or she will have to pay ~10.78 lakh for the eighth month—a rate that would possibly eclipse the rent of posh private properties in Central Delhi.

During the debate on the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Amendment Bill, housing minister Hardeep Singh Puri had pointed out, “Many of our colleagues, both in Parliament as well as in government service, somehow do not vacate the accommodation allotted to them. This naturally creates a strain on government accommodation.”

“There is a demand in general pool residential accommodation in Delhi of 80,437 units,” Puri said.

The Narendra Modi government has had to forcibly remove illegal occupants from government flats a few times.

In a meeting of the house committee of the Rajya Sabha a few weeks ago, it was also decided that some members may be allowed to retain flats for a longer period if there are exigencies. Sometimes, members retain their accommodation when they are certain to return for a new term.

It was decided that a member has to pay a higher rent for such interim periods. “All types of accommodations including those under eviction/litigation” will attract such penalties, the circular said. MPs have been informed by Rajya Sabha secretary general Desh Deepak Verma that these charges will be “automatically revised as and when the Licence fee/Damage rate are revised by department of estates”

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