LS nod for bill to ensure speedy eviction from govt accommodations

New Delhi: Lok Sabha on Wednesday passed a bill for speedy eviction of unauthorised occupants of government residential accommodations, with Union Minister Hardeep Puri slamming the “culture of impunity” in the national capital.

Responding to the debate on the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Amendment Bill, 2019, Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri said it was a good time to push through the legislation as many MPs were waiting for their new accommodation.

Lok Sabha results were declared on May 23 and all members who lost elections were supposed to vacate the homes by June 23, but even after more than two months the ministry is still issuing routine notices, he said.

“There is a culture of impunity which has been operating in Delhi… many leaders came to me saying they don’t want to vacate their homes as it will lower their prestige and ‘jo hoga dekha jayega’,” Puri said urging that there is need to change this approach.

In total 77,199 total government accommodations are available in the national capital and there is shortage of 15,466 homes and “currently 3,081 cases were under litigation,” which was a matter of concern, he told the House.

At the same time, Puri said he has not come across a single case where judges have not left their house after demitting office.

The bill was passed by the Lower House by a voice vote.

Countering Kalyan Banerjee (TMC) argument that the bill gives power to officials which can be exercised arbitrarily, Puri said his officers have “never done so and will never do so”.

Banerjee, who was member of the Housing Committee in 16th Lok Sabha, claimed that officers were not listening to them, but Puri came out strongly in support of the officers.

However, his remarks were objected to by members. BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi pointed out that Puri, an erstwhile IFS officer, is now a member of the house and not an officer anymore.

After various objections from the members including those from BJP, Puri said he will send written replies to questions of each member separately and if required will circulate them also.

Earlier speaking on the bill, Supriya Sule (NCP) said that the government should not encourage loopholes that will add to corruption.

N K Premchandran(RSP) said that he supports the bill but demanded that occupants should be given 30 days to vacate the house.

The Centre has to evict unauthorised occupants from government accommodations under the provisions of the PPE Act, 1971. However, the eviction proceedings take unusually long time, thereby reducing the availability of government accommodations to new incumbents.

Under the proposed bill, the estate officer will not be required to follow elaborate proceedings like serving notice, show cause, inquiry, rather he or she can initiate summary eviction proceedings.

The proposed amendments would enable the estate officer to apply summary proceedings for evicting unauthorised occupants from residential accommodations and to levy damage charges for accommodation held during the period of litigation.