#Day27: ‘What Kind Of Accommodation Is Given To ‘Protectees’ Like Payal Abdullah?’ SC Asks



With Payal Abdullah, the estranged wife of former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, fighting to retain her bungalow in the Lutyens zone on the ground of having “Z and Z plus security”, the Delhi High Court on Thursday asked the Union Government whether any accommodation is provided by the government to such protectees.

“File your counter affidavit on how many security personnel are required under Z and Z plus. What kind of accommodation is given to Z and Z plus protectees? Are they living in private accommodation? Give details of that as well,” Justice Indermeet Kaur said while asking the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to apprise the court by August 12.

The direction came as Payal Abdullah contended she and her children are “Z and Z plus protectees”, respectively, and need “suitable” accommodation which can house the 94 personnel in their security detail.

On the other hand, the Jammu and Kashmir government told the court that “Z and Z plus protectees” get only four to five security personnel and the 94 personnel that Payal Abdullah was referring to were there as it was the residence of the J&K CM.

The Union government standing counsel Anurag Ahluwalia orally supported the contention of J&K government, but as nothing was on record before the court, it directed MHA to file an affidavit stating how many security personnel are provided to such protectees and whether they also get government accommodation.

With these directions the court listed the matter for further hearing on August 12.

Payal Abdullah, in her plea, has sought that she and her children be not evicted from 7, Akbar Road (type VIII) bungalow or an alternate accommodation be provided “in view of their security status and threat to their lives”.

At the last hearing, the Ministry of Urban Development had told the court that Payal cannot be given government accommodation on security grounds as this facility was available to SPG protectees alone.

The ministry had also said that the 7, Akbar Road bungalow was the official residence of the J&K CM, an office that is currently held by Ms Mehbooba Mufti after the death of her father, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed.

In their plea, Payal Abdullah and her children have claimed that the Union Government, through a letter dated September 9, 2015, allotted the 7 Akbar Road bungalow to the state of Jammu and Kashmir as the Chief Minister’s residence with retrospective effect from August 11, 2009, without following the due process of law, which was thus illegal.

They have contended that the website of the Department of Hospitality and Protocol of Government of Jammu and Kashmir shows that the residence of Chief Minister of the state was 5, Prithviraj Road.

Their petition, filed through advocate Amit Khemka, has claimed that they moved the high court as Omar Abdullah in his response to the estate officer’s show cause notice had said he was no longer in occupation of the premises and hence the authority was free to take whatever steps necessary to take over the premises.

The petitioners, including the couple’s two children, have sought parity with Priyanka Gandhi, Subramanian Swamy and several others who have been granted government accommodation on security grounds.

The petitioners have contended that the eviction order was passed without allowing them to lead evidence and without granting any personal hearing to them.

As per the eviction order, the petitioners were given 15 days to vacate the premises.

Payal, in her plea, has said she has a flat in the city but it would be “totally insufficient for making elaborate security arrangements for their protection” as there were other flats in the same building.

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