In Bihar, rickshaw pullers occupied government houses!


New Delhi : Rickshaw pullers, dairy owners and henchmen of politicians were illegally occupying government accommodation in Bihar, the Supreme Court has been informed.

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The Bihar government made the startling revelation last week before a bench of judges B.N. Agarwal and P.P. Naolekar that is currently engaged in probing the country-wide malaise of legislators and bureaucrats overstaying in government accommodation.

The Bihar government counsel made the disclosure when the bench, while scrutinising a list of unauthorised occupants of government officers’ flats on Bailey Road, opposite the Patna High Court, noticed that some of the occupants had been identified as “unknown” or as “Munnaji” and “Sharmaji”.

Surprised over this queer manner of identifying the illegal occupants, the bench quizzed the Bihar counsel as to who exactly these worthies were.

At this, counsel sheepishly contended they were “outsiders” like politicians’ henchmen or rickshaw pullers and dairy owners and belonged neither to the categories of serving or retired government officials or former legislators.

In fact, in response to the court’s directions at the last hearing in April, the Bihar government had evicted some 180 individuals from government accommodation in Patna. A fair number of these were “outsiders”.

The court had subsequently told the governments of Bihar and some other states to suspend all those who were overstaying in government accommodation and to initiate criminal action against them on charges of trespassing.

The state governments were also asked to deduct penal rent from the salaries of such individuals and from their pensions if they had retired.

The Bihar government then ran into problem in implementing the court order as many of the 180 people evicted turned out to be “outsiders” and thus could not be monetarily penalised.

“The outsiders who were in illegal occupation of government quarters have been evicted. The government is now finding it difficult to trace these persons after evicting them and to initiate legal action against them,” the Bihar government told the Supreme Court.