No government official can hold more than one house under any government scheme: Bombay HC

While passing the ordinance, the court stated that having a second house is an unjust use of position and power for a government official, including the judges. The court has directed the government to form a new policy within six months where an official can only get one house from a government scheme.

No government official can hold more than one house under any government scheme: Bombay HC

On Monday, the Bombay High Court declared that no person, including judges, would be entitled to hold more than one house or tenement at a time in Maharashtra under any state government scheme. A bench of Justices B R Gavai and Bharti Dangre stated that there was nothing wrong if the government floated a scheme to provide houses to judges and other people at a concessional rate. However, it would be using their position for unjust enrichment if that person used his power to obtain more than one house.

The order was passed by the court in regard to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by former journalist Ketan Tirodkar who questioned the state government’s decision to construct a high-class residential building in Oshiwara for the sitting HC judges.

Tirodkar alleged in his petition that the procedure for allotting the houses in the society was wrong and a ‘pick and choose’ method was being practiced. Further, he also stated that some of the judges who were allotted flats already had houses under a different government scheme. The building consists of 63 tenements and out of which, 39 are said to be allotted to the sitting HC judges.

In response, the court passed a judgment, asking the state government to come up with a scheme by which a person, including judges, can only claim one house/tenement under any scheme in the state. However, the court further stated that if the person wanted to opt for another flat, then he/she must surrender the existing flat to the government. 

Meanwhile, the judiciary further added that although the judiciary is not answerable to anyone, the judges are always accountable to their own conscience. Alongside, they directed the government to formulate a policy in the span of six months.

In the meantime, talking about the remaining 24 flats, the court directed the registrar general of the high court to make a list of HC judges on the basis of seniority and know their views whether they opted for the allotment and accordingly, submit the list to the government.

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