On the 4th of September, Rajasthan HC made a significant judgement to abolish the life-long free facilities like government bungalows, cars and telephone provided to the former CMs of the state.
The petition was filed against Section 7BB and 11(2) of the Rajasthan Ministers Salaries Act allows the former CMs to retain a government residence, vehicle for their family, telephone services and staff of 10 persons for private use.
The petitioners argued that only members of the legislature are allow to draw salary and allowances under Article 164(5), 195 and Entries 38 and 40 of list II of the Constitution.
The state legislature is only empowered to decide the salary of the CM and other ministers does not have the authority to make housing arrangements.
The petitioner raises questions relating to the allocation of property and car to the ex CMs, as they are categorised as public property which are only meant to be put in use by the holders of public offices. The state is burdened with expenses due to such luxurious allocations to the former CMs.
The provisions laid by the Rajasthan Ministries Act failed to pass the reasonable test laid down the Supreme Court in the case of Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India, after losing a public office all CMs are to be regarded as common man and cannot demand special treatment.
In their defence the State of Rajasthan argued that CMs are distinct public office holders and can hold access to the public property even after their tenure. The State referred to the judgement of Shiv Sagar Tiwari v. Union of India and others to back their argument.
The High Court on the other hand found that the provisions of Section 7BB are contrary to Article 14 of the Constitution, as it violates the principle of equality. The Court in its judgement made an observation that in strong and bigger economy like United States the former presidents are not entitled to anything but pension and medical insurance. The provision is declared arbitrary and unconstitutional.