AAP leader Raghav Chadha’s lawyer on Wednesday told the Delhi High Court that the decision to evict the politician from the government bungalow allotted to him was “arbitrary and malicious”.
Chadha had moved the Delhi High Court challenging a trial court’s order which stopped him from dispossessing him from the type VII bungalow allotted to him.
“The decision to withdraw my allotment reeks of malice,” said senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who represented Chadha, told the high court.
“At least 115 MPs out of 245 MPs in Rajya Sabha have a housing allotment higher than technical entitlement. Four other first-term MPs have bungalows on the same road as me. Their other argument was that my house belongs to the general pool. 65 other allotted houses are also in the general pool,” Singhvi argued.
RAGHAV CHADHA-PARINEETI CHOPRA WEDDING
Singhvi questioned the timing of the eviction notice that was served to Chadhas. The lawyer said that the government’s move clashed with his wedding to actor Parineeti Chopra.
“The timing of the eviction notice that I suspect was he (Chadha) was to get married, which was in the public domain,” Singhvi said.
Chadha was allotted the type VII bungalow on central Delhi’s Pandara Road in September 2022 and the MP took possession in November. However, in March this year, the Rajya Sabha Secretariat cancelled the allotment and served an eviction notice on him.
The AAP leader then approached a civil court in Delhi seeking an injunction against the eviction notice.
While the initial order of the court was in Chadha’s favour, the court later asked him to vacate after the Rajya Sabha Secretariat filed a review plea. Chadha then moved the Delhi High Court against the civil court order.
The matter was heard before the bench of Justice Anoop J Bhambhani on Wednesday, with the next hearing scheduled on Thursday.
Singhvi, who is himself a seven-time MP, argued before the court that the issue of “entitlement” as a “first-time MP” was an “arbitrary argument” raised by the Rajya Sabha Secretariat since the allotment was made on a “discretionary basis” by the Vice President of India.
He submitted before the court that Chadha had been allotted the Pandara Road bungalow despite his status as a first-time MP, due to “security status”. Chadha is a Z+ protectee and was granted protection after receiving death threats in Punjab.
“I had been allotted type V earlier, then the Vice President applied his mind to the issue and allotted type VII. Even if I am not entitled, the decision is not under the PP Act (Public Premises Act) by an eviction officer. I have been accepted as a Z+ protectee and a contingent of police officers sits in my house. It’s not that the protection applies only when I’m in Punjab. Doesn’t that mean I can be assassinated when I’m in Delhi? I have to be protected also when I’m in Delhi,” argued Singhvi.
‘CHADHA’S NEIGHBOURS FIRST TIME MPs TOO’
A technical argument raised in this case also involved the question of whether the decision of the Rajya Sabha Secretariat could be challenged in a suit proceedings before a civil court.
Singhvi raised the contention that the secretariat does not fall within the definition of “government” under the Civil Procedure Code, and therefore Chadha was entitled to file a suit in court instead of approaching the authorities under the Public Premises Act.
Further, Chadha said that his neighbours, including Sudhanshu Trivedi and Danish Ali, are also first-time MPs.
Meanwhile, the Additional Solicitor General (ASG) told the court that the allotment was not approved by the House committee.
“The chairman of the House Committee has the power to cancel the allotment,” argued the ASG.