The Supreme Court on Monday stayed Uttarakhand High Court’s contempt proceedings against Minister of Education Ramesh Pokhriyal for allegedly failing to pay rent and other dues for government accommodation, during his tenure as the state’s chief minister, Live Law reported.
The order was passed by a bench headed by Justice RF Nariman, based on a petition by Pokhriyal.
On October 15, the Uttarakhand High Court had issued a show-cause notice to Additional Secretary Deependra Chaudhary in the civil contempt petition. The official had been asked how he had lowered the amount due on Pokhriyal’s part.
The court had in August issued show-cause notices to three former chief ministers of Uttarakhand – Pokhriyal, Vijay Bahuguna and Bhuvan Chand Khanduri – for not complying with order to clear dues, according to The New Indian Express.
Last week, another former chief minister – Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari – had been asked to respond to the petition for contempt proceedings against him, The Times of India reported. The proceedings against Bahuguna and Khanduri have already been stayed.
Koshyari owes the government Rs 47.57 lakh, followed by Khanduri (Rs 46.59 lakh), Pokhriyal (Rs 40.95 lakh) and Bahuguna (Rs 37.5 lakh).
In May last year, the Uttarakhand High Court had ordered the former chief ministers to pay market rent for the entire duration of their stay in government accommodations, PTI reported. It had also declared government orders from 2001, providing housing and other facilities to former chief ministers, as unconstitutional and illegal.
The court had also directed the state government to calculate the dues within four months. It set a six-month deadline for the former chief ministers to pay their dues.
The court’s order was based on a petition filed by a non-governmental organisation based in Dehradun.