Published On: Wed, Jul 31st, 2019

LS passes Bill to evict squatters from Lutyens’ bungalows

New Delhi: The Lok Sabha on Wednesday unanimously passed a Bill that seeks eviction of unauthorised occupants, including former MPs and retired officials, of government accommodations in Lutyens’ Delhi.

Draft legislation provided facilitation of speedy eviction of unauthorised occupants from bungalows in Lutyen’s Delhi

Arguing for the passage of the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Amendment Bill, 2019, Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said the draft legislation provided facilitation of speedy eviction of unauthorised occupants from bungalows in Lutyen’s Delhi.

The Centre provides residential accommodation to its employees, MPs and other dignitaries while they are in service or till the term of their office. As per the allotment rules, after the expiry of terms, the occupation becomes unauthorised and such accommodation should be vacated.

The draft legislation seeks amendment to the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, 1971, enacted to provide for eviction of unauthorised occupants from public premises and for certain incidental matters.

The Act confers powers upon the estate officers to evict such unauthorised occupants from “public premises” in a smooth, speedy and timebound manner.

Speaking on the Bill introduced in the Lower House on July 8, the Minister said there were 15,416 general pool residential accommodations. Of this, 20 per cent were under litigation, he said. It means 3,081 people of different categories had not vacated their accommodations.

Under the existing provisions, the eviction proceedings from “public premises” take around five-seven weeks. It may take around four more weeks if the unauthorised occupants file appeal under the Act.

However, eviction proceedings take much longer than the time prescribed in the Act. Sometimes, it takes years to evict the unauthorised occupants.

“There are provisions for summary eviction proceedings under section 3A of the Act in case of persons occupying ‘public premises’ temporarily, that is, less than 30 days. Under the summary proceedings, the estate officer does not have to follow elaborate procedure prescribed, for serving notice, show cause, inquiry and hearing as per sections 4 and 5 of the Act, before passing eviction order,” the Minister said.

It is, therefore, proposed to apply summary eviction procedure with a short show-cause notice of three days to the unauthorised occupants by inserting new section 3B. It is also proposed to define the expression “residential accommodation occupation” by amending section 2.

“It’s often seen that the unauthorised occupants don’t vacate the government accommodation on expiry of the terms and uses dilatory tactics to withhold the accommodation, by challenging the eviction order before an appellate officer or the high court and by obtaining stay on the eviction order.

“To check this delay, it’s also proposed to insert a new sub-section (3A) in section 7 of the Act to the effect that if the person challenges the eviction order, passed by the estate officer, in any court, he has to pay the damages for every month for the residential accommodation held by him.”

These amendments would facilitate smooth and speedy eviction of unauthorised occupants and ensure retrieval of the residential accommodation without requiring elaborate procedures under sections 4 and 5 of the said Act, Puri said.

This would further increase availability of residential accommodations to new incumbents and improve the overall satisfaction level, he added.

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