Iron hand: Lok Sabha clears tough law to evict illegal occupants of govt property

Lok Sabha Wednesday cleared a strong law to evict illegal occupants from the government property. The earlier law made it difficult for the government to evict unauthorised occupants from residential properties. The Union government provides residential accommodation to members of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha and also to other officials and government employees. However, it was difficult for the estate officers to evict illegal occupants after the expiry of their term or retirement from the service because of the cumbersome and time-consuming provisions in the existing law. The existing law has multiple layers of eviction process involving service of a show cause notice and appeal provisions at several levels that took years to implement an eviction order. Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri moved the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Amendment Bill, 2019 which was approved by the Lok Sabha. Modi government had introduced a bill in the Lok Sabha in 2017 for speedy eviction of the illegal occupants. However, it could not be passed in its first term and expired with the dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha in May this year. ALSO READ: Modi govt There was a provision of giving four more weeks time if the occupant filed an appeal against the estate officers order. However, the existing process took several years in many cases with a prolonged legal battle in High Courts against the governments eviction order. Under the summary provisions of the existing law, the estate officer does not have to follow the elaborate procedure of serving the show cause notice and other time consuming process. However, they were not applicable to residential properties. In September 2014, the government had to cut water and power supply of former civil aviation minister and Rashtriya Lok Dal Supremo Ajit Singhs bungalow in New Delhi. It resulted in a tense stand-off between the government and RLD leader as his supporters threatened to cut off Delhis water supply in a tit-for-tat response. ALSO READ: What went wrong with Modi govt Politically influential unauthorised occupants often do not vacate the government accommodation and adopt dilatory tactics by filing appeals before the appeallate officer or the High Court. In the bill, the government has inserted a new sub-section (3A) in section 7 of the Act. Now, if any illegal occupant challenges the estate officers eviction order in a court of law then he will have to pay damages to the government on monthly basis. ALSO READ: Explained: Why Modi govt is keen to pass Dam Safety Bill and what it will change