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Bungalow stay scan

New Delhi, July 18: The Supreme Court today sought the Centre’s reply to allegations that several former Union ministers and retired bureaucrats were being allowed to illegally occupy official bungalows.

The charges have been levelled by former comptroller and auditor general Vinod Rai in a recent letter to the Chief Justice of India.

Rai has cited a newspaper report that says at least 22 former Union ministers and retired bureaucrats have been given extensions to live in government accommodation.

They include Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad, former DMK minister and 2G scam accused A. Raja, and former Congress ministers S.M. Krishna and Pawan Bansal.

The bench of Chief Justice R.M. Lodha and Justices Kurien Joseph and R.F. Nariman issued the directive and appointed senior counsel Shyam Divan as amicus curiae (friend of the court) in the matter.

Rai’s letter argued that overstaying by former ministers denies legitimate claimants their rights, so that “those who follow the norms are losers in the game of grabs”.

Rai questioned the discretionary powers exercised by the Union urban development minister and secretary in what he described as allowing politicians and bureaucrats to overstay in government bungalows without valid reasons.

He also questioned the authority of the minister and the secretary to allot government accommodation to certain private individuals.

Rai claimed the extension granted to Lalu Prasad came on the ground that his granddaughter’s school is close to the bungalow. Some others have sought extension on the ground that their bungalows hold memories of their deceased parents, he alleged.

He urged the court to fix appropriate norms for the allotment of official bungalows to avoid their misuse.