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Mahua Moitra moves Delhi HC against move to oust her from official residence

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Mahua Moitra Supreme Court

TMC leader Mahua Moitra (File image)

New Delhi: Trinamool Congress leader Mahua Moitra, who was recently expelled from the Lok Sabha, approached the Delhi High Court on Monday challenging cancellation of her government accommodation and asking her to vacate the house by January 7, 2024.

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The petition, which is likely to be listed for hearing on Tuesday, urged that the Directorate of Estates’ December 11 order be set aside or, in the alternative, Moitra be allowed to retain possession of the accommodation till the results of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections are declared.

Moitra was held guilty of "unethical conduct" and expelled from the Lok Sabha on December 8, 2023 for allegedly accepting gifts from businessman Darshan Hiranandani and sharing her user ID and password of the Parliament website with him.

She has already challenged her expulsion in the Supreme Court after the Lok Sabha adopted the report of its ethics committee recommending her ouster. The case is listed for hearing on January 3, 2024.

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In her plea before the high court, she said the Directorate of Estates’ order has been issued following her expulsion from the Lok Sabha.

“The impugned order is premature as the validity of the petitioner’s expulsion is pending adjudication before the Supreme Court of India,” Moitra's petition said.

“In such circumstances — where whether the petitioner is an ‘unauthorised occupant’ at all is under adjudication before the highest constitutional court of the land — the respondent no. 1 (Directorate of Estates), as an executing authority, cannot initiate proceedings under the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act 1971 for evicting the petitioner.

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“It is only once the petitioner’s claim over rightfully occupying the government accommodation is duly adjudicated, does the question of the estate office’s/ respondent no. 1’s jurisdiction arises,” the plea said.

Moitra said she was elected to the Lok Sabha for the first time from Krishnanagar constituency in West Bengal in the 2019 general elections and her party has chosen her as its candidate from there for the 2024 LS polls as well.

Since the expulsion from the Lok Sabha does not disqualify her from contesting elections, she will be running again and will need to focus her time and energies on her constituents, it said.

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“Instability in accommodation, however, would pose a significant impediment to the petitioner’s ability to host and engage with party members, parliamentarians, fellow politicians, visiting constituents, key stakeholders and other dignitaries, which is essential, especially in the lead up to a general election,” the plea said.

She said she is living alone in Delhi and has no other place of residence or alternative accommodation here and, if evicted from her government accommodation, she will have to fulfil the duties of campaigning while also trying to find a new residence.

“This will place an onerous burden on the petitioner. Thus, in the alternative, the petitioner prays that she be allowed to continue residing in her current house till the results of the 2024 General Elections. In the event that the petitioner is so allowed, she will readily undertake to pay any charges that may be applicable for the extended period of stay,” the petition said.

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