In a major blow to five former Uttarakhand chief ministers, the Uttarakhand High Court termed amenities like free house and vehicle provided to ex-CMs by state government ‘illegal’ and ‘unconstitutional’.

In a judgment on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by a Dehradun-based NGO in Nainital on Friday, the High Court asked the Uttarakhand government to calculate the facilities provided to the former Uttarakhand chief ministers at market rate and collect the amount from the ex-CM within six months.

The two-judge bench, comprising Chief Justice Ramesh Ranganathan and Justice Ramesh Chandra Khulbe, also expressed deep concerns over the practice adopted by political leaders to enjoy lifetime government facilities after serving in the CM office.

The Rural Litigation of Entitlement Kendra (RLEK) took up the issue in 2010. In a move to stop the misuse of public money and a burden on exchequer, the NGO began the legal battle and tasted first success in December 2016 when the Uttarakhand High Court ordered former Uttarakhand chief ministers Narayan Dutt Tiwari, Bhuvan Chandra Khanduri, Bhagat Singh Koshiyari, Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank and Vijay Bahuguna to vacate government bungalows by February 2017.

After the 2016 December judgement, some ex-CMs paid their dues but Bhagat Singh Koshyari appealed for providing relief on ground of his poor financial condition.

Now all the five CMs, including family members of deceased ND Tiwari, will have to pay for the amenities availed and enjoyed as ex-CM. They will have to pay the house rent, water charges, electricity charges, petrol and other facilities on market price.

According to a rough calculation, over Rs 13 crore was incurred in providing electricity, water, petrol and other amenities to the political leaders.

A total amount of Rs 1.12 crore is pending against late ND Tiwari, Rs 47 lakh on BC Khanduri, Rs 37 lakh on Vijay Bahuguna and Rs 47 lakh on Bhagat Singh Koshyari as housing rent.