mid-day editorial: Don't allow overstaying in govt quarters

Former IPS officer PK Jain, who continues to occupy a plush government-provided accommodation at Churchgate despite retiring two years ago, is still wondering why the state wants to recover penal rent of Rs 9.81 lakh from him.

A report in this paper yesterday stated that Jain retired as Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) in February 2014. He has overstayed since, and was asked to vacate the flat after his retirement, but he wanted to continue residing in the same accommodation stating that he is now a member of the State Police Complaint Authority. He actually argued that why should he should be singled out, if other senior bureaucrats are allowed to overstay in their official accommodation and even got their penal rent waived.

There are several Jain-alikes who refuse to move out of their service accommodation, after retirement. Though the media continues to name and shame these ministers and bureaucrats, who refuse to vacate their official quarters in coveted locations, thick skinned officials are unmoved by media reports.

This problem is not just restricted to Mumbai, where property is at a premium. Two years ago, a slew of reports stated that in Delhi too, 22 former Union ministers, occupy plush government bungalows in some of the toniest localities in the Capital, despite the Supreme Court saying that such accommodation is to be vacated within a month of ceasing to be minister.

It is laughable that bureaucrats point fingers at others when asked to vacate their official premises, long after their time is up. This is a dilly-dallying, time wasting tactic that is simply designed to elongate their stay in the coveted quarters.

Moving out after their official term should be non-negotiable. Strict punishments including police action must be considered, if they still refuse to vacate. Not paying penal rent and depriving the Government should be treated as a crime.

One needs to take a very tough line, since Jain and his pathetic excuses are not an isolated issue, but part of a larger pattern that shows no sign of waning.

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