Raghav Chadha moves court after losing bungalow: What is his case, how are official homes allotted

Raghav Chadha had been given a Type-VII bungalow, though in the normal course, as a first-time MP, he is entitled to a Type-V house. How are these allotments decided?

AAP leader Raghav Chadha during Idea Exchange at Indian Express Noida office on, Monday, April 10, 2023.AAP leader Raghav Chadha during Idea Exchange at Indian Express Noida office on, Monday, April 10, 2023. (Express photo by Abhinav Saha)

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The Rajya Sabha Secretariat’s decision to allot a Type-VII bungalow on New Delhi’s Pandara Road to first-time MP Raghav Chadha in September last year and then cancel the allotment this March has led the Aam Aadmi Party MP to move court and obtain a stay against being removed from the property.

As a first-time MP, Chadha is entitled to a Type-V house in normal course, though the chairperson of the Rajya Sabha House committee is authorised to make exceptions. The matter is now in Delhi’s Patiala House courts.

What are the types of government accommodation in Delhi?

Starting with Rashtrapati Bhawan at the top, there are various types of accommodation for Constitutional office-bearers, Union Ministers, judges, defence chiefs, MPs and bureaucrats spread across the Lutyens Bungalow Zone (LBZ). While the area is named after the architect of New Delhi, Edwin Lutyens, he did not design the bungalows, but laid out the masterplan for the 19.12-square-kilometre area.

Around 600 bungalows — single-storied standalone buildings — are spread around the LBZ. Residential accommodation for mid and junior-level Central government officers can also be found outside the LBZ, like in the residential colonies of Sarojini Nagar, Thyagraj Nagar and others, which are being redeveloped into high-rise towers.

The accommodations are categorised from Type I to Type-VIII, which is the largest. There are a total of 520 Type VII and Type VIII bungalows.

How are the allotments done?

While the Union Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry’s Directorate of Estates allots houses to Union Ministers, eligible Central government officers and heads of national commissions, the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha secretariat are responsible for allotting homes to their MPs. Both Houses have a House Committee comprising MPs to approve allotments and cancellations. Similarly, the Supreme Court has its own pool of houses for judges.

In the case of Rajya Sabha MPs, like Chadha, first-time MPs are entitled to Type-V bungalows or single flats as their official accommodation. Many of the first-time MPs are allotted flats in the redeveloped MP flats on BD Marg or the old flats on North and South Avenue. The next category, Type VI bungalows or twin flats, are for MPs who are former Ministers of State, Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha, Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha, nominated members, floor leaders of their parties and members who have completed at least one term.

Type-VII bungalows, which is what Chadha was allotted, is meant for MPs who are former Union Cabinet Ministers, former Chief Ministers, Governors and Speaker of Lok Sabha. The biggest category, Type VIII, is for all those mentioned in the previous category plus former Chief Election Commissioners. The MPs have to apply using a prescribed form addressed to the House Committee chairman.

What happened in Chadha’s case?

The Rajya Sabha Members’ Handbook lays down the procedure and eligibility criteria for accommodation. It says the House Committee chairperson is authorised to make exceptions on a case-by-case basis. Chadha has claimed that the Rajya Sabha Secretariat did not give him an explanation about why his allotment was being cancelled.

However, a possible explanation could be that since Chadha was entitled to a Type-V house and his allotment of a Type-VII bungalow needed the approval of the House Committee chairman. The previous House Committee chairman OP Mathur’s term had ended in July 2022 and the incumbent chairman, CM Ramesh, took charge on November 2, 2022, meaning there was no House Committee chairperson at the time of Chadha’s allotment in September.

That being said, Chadha has said his allotment was approved by Rajya Sabha chairman, Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankhar.

Who is in-charge of maintaining the property?

The properties are split in various pools — Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, Supreme Court and General — but the maintenance is the responsibility of the Central Public Works Department. When a new occupant moves in, he or she can have renovations carried out by the CPWD as per the requirement.

The renovations, however, cannot alter the exteriors of the property, as the LBZ is a regulated zone for development. Interiors, including flooring, woodwork, kitchen and bathrooms, of the more than 80-year-old bungalows have been changed over the years.

First published on: 08-06-2023 at 19:07 IST

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