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If the SC accepts Gopal Subramanium’s suggestions, former top leaders may lose accommodations

Former Presidents Pratibha Patil, Pranab Mukherjee and ex-Prime Ministers HD Deve Gowda, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh may now need to vacate their Lutyens’ Delhi government accommodations.

If the Supreme Court accepts the suggestions of ex-solicitor general Gopal Subramanium, the former top leaders may lose the accommodations allotted to them on the basis of the high posts they held.

Earlier on August 23, an apex court bench – comprising of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and Navin Sinha – appointed Subramanium as amicus curiae to help the court in decisions on a PIL by an NGO, ‘Lok Prahari’. The NGO’s plea to the court challenged a law enacted by the Uttar Pradesh government to allot official accommodations to former Chief Ministers.

Appointing Subramanium to look into the matter, the bench said, “We are of the view that the issue raised in this writ petition gives rise to questions of considerable public importance, which may also have an impact on pari materia (similar) legislation in force in different states and also central legislations, if any. We are of the view that there is necessity for in depth consideration and examination of the several facets of the issue involved.”

According to Subramanium, the holders of the top constitutional posts in the country are back to being ordinary private citizen, once they resign from their respective offices.

The former solicitor general’s opinion also included accommodations provided to the families of departed leaders – many of which are turned into memorials in the course of time. While such memorials also includes the accommodations provided to the families of former PMs – Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri and Indira Gandhi – previously a bungalow at 6, Krishna Menon Marg, was leased to Babu Jagjivan Ram national foundation.

According to Subramanium, “Once an office-holder (President, PM, CM, etc) demits office, he or she ceases to be an occupant of that pubic office and is, therefore, shorn of all its adornments. He or she reverts to being a citizen of India, and ought to be granted no greater privilege than that afforded to other citizens of India, except for the minimal courtesies of protocol, pension and other regular post-retirement benefits.”

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