Delhi HC asks Ambika Soni, Kumari Selja to vacate bungalows

The Delhi High Court has asked Rajya Sabha MPs Ambika Soni and Kumari Selja to vacate their Lutyens Delhi bungalows, which the two Congress leaders had been occupying despite several eviction notices.

The court also imposed a penalty of Rs25,000 each and asked the two MPs to pay the directorate of estates the amount within three months.

The two MPs continue to occupy the ministerial Type VIII bungalows - 22 Akbar Road and 7 Motilal Nehru Marg, respectively - even after demitting office.

As MPs, the two are entitled to a lower Type VII category bungalow. However, when asked to vacate they had moved privilege notices with the chairman of the Rajya Sabha where the Congress party has a majority.

The urban development ministry had served them eviction notices. Instead of surrendering the bungalows, the two MPs opted to take the matter to Delhi High Court.

The Delhi High Court on Thursday ruled in favour of directorate of estates and asked the MPs to vacate the bungalows.

"I am also saddened to note that the petitioners, merely for the sake of retaining a house to which they are not entitled, have attempted to give political overtones to the matter and have insisted on the said argument," Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw said in his order.

The court dismissed the contention of the two MPs that the government was being "vindictive".

"Citizens choose a member of Parliament to represent themselves in the making of laws and for keeping a watch over the governmental affairs and for ensuring that the government is run in accordance accordance with the laws, rules and procedures framed. It does not behove such representatives of people to say that though the others are bound by the laws, rules and regulations framed by them but they themselves are not."

The Delhi High Court pointed out that the two MPs got bungalows allotted right before the 2014 elections at a time when there were doubts about their political party coming back to power.

Terming the intentions as "suspect", the judge said the MPs are reminded not to assert claims beyond "their entitlement under the rules".

"Thus looked at from whatever angle, there is no merit in the petitions, which are dismissed. The petitioners are also burdened with costs of Rs25,000 each payable to the DoE within three months of today," said Justice Endlaw in his order.