The Delhi High Court on Tuesday allowed the appeal moved by Aam Aadmi Party MP Raghav Chadha challenging the trial court order which granted nod and paved way for the Rajya Sabha Secretariat to evict him from a government bungalow.
Justice Anup Jairam Bhambhani had reserved the order last week after hearing Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi appearing for Chadha and ASG Vikram Banerjee for the Rajya Sabha Secretariat.
“Accordingly the appeal is allowed, holding : (a) that there was no requirement for the appellant/plaintiff to file the application under section 80 CPC, or to comply with that provision; and therefore the application under section 80 CPC is disposed-of as infructuous,” the court said.
It directed Chadha to present the plaint before the trial court within three days and has further asked the trial court to proceed with the matter by deciding the AAP leader’s application under Order 39 Rule 1 and 2 of CPC.Justice Bhambhani has also directed the trial court to proceed with the suit in accordance with law. The court also said that the impugned order will stand revived till Chadha’s application is decided by the trial court.
The court also held that the Rajya Sabha Secretariat, being the permanent administrative office of the Rajya Sabha which is one of the Houses of Parliament, is a separate and distinct institution from the Government, which (latter) is the Executive wing of the State. While adjudicating the question as to whether Rajya Sabha Secretariat is Government or a public officer within the meaning of section 80 of CPC, the court said:
“A perusal of the sub-clauses of section 2(17) CPC would show that reference is made to a public officer of the Government or serving under the Government, with certain other nuances and specifications. Applying the literal rule of construction, the Rajya Sabha Secretariat evidently does not fall within the ambit of a person who could be an officer of the Government or serving under the Government.” The court added that it would stretch all canons of statutory construction to even debate whether the Rajya Sabha Secretariat is a public officer, since a public officer must be a natural person and that term cannot refer to an institution or body.
“In the context of the present case, since obviously, the Rajya Sabha Secretariat was sued through the person that heads it, and who would act on its behalf, the name of the Secretary General appears as that person. That however does not mean that the defendant in the suit is the Secretary General. Clearly, the defendant in the suit is the Rajya Sabha Secretariat,” the court said.
It added: “In the context of the present case therefore, the description of the defendant as „Rajya Sabha Secretariat, Through its Secretary General‟ cannot be taken to mean that the Rajya Sabha Secretariat and the Secretary General are one- and-the-same thing or that relief has been has been sought against the Secretary General.”
During the hearing, Singhvi had submitted that Chadha is selectively targeted in being evicted from the government bungalow allotted to him when there are other first time MPs as well with identical accommodation above their entitlement.
He also said that Chadha’s suspension from Rajya Sabha has nothing to do with the cancellation of the government bungalow. He told court that while the cancellation happened in March, he was suspended only in July.
Furthermore, Singhvi had submitted that it is neither a case of overstaying in the accommodation nor about fresh allotment. He said that it is a case where the bungalow was allotted after “exercise of full application of mind” by the Vice President in September last year, followed by its acceptance by Chadha.
About the Case
Last week, Additional District Judge Sudhanshu Kaushik of Patiala House Courts vacated an interim order passed on April 18 directing the Rajya Sabha Secretariat to not dispossess Chadha from the government bungalow without due process of law.
The trial court held that Chadha has no vested right to continue to occupy the government bungalow after its allotment has been canceled and the privilege given to him has been withdrawn.
“Plaintiff (Raghav Chadha) cannot claim that he has an absolute right to continue to occupy the accommodation during his entire tenure as a Member of Rajya Sabha. The allotment of Government accommodation is only a privilege given to the plaintiff and he has no vested right to continue to occupy the same even after the cancellation of allotment,” the court had said.
The trial court judge was hearing a review application filed by the Rajya Sabha Secretariat seeking recall of the interim order. The development ensued in a suit filed by Chadha against the Secretariat challenging a letter issued on March 03cancelling the accommodation allotted to him.
While seeking recall of the interim order, the Secretariat had contended that the court granted the interim relief to Chadha without following the procedure contemplated under Section 80(2) of CPC. It was submitted that a hearing was required to be given to both sides before granting the leave under the provision.
Vacating the interim order, the court had rejected Chadha’s argument that the accommodation once made to a Member of Parliament cannot be canceled under any circumstances during the entire tenure of Member of Parliament.