The Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Amendment Bill, 2019, as passed by Lok Sabha

SHRI AMAR PATNAIK (ODISHA): Sir, I fully and whole-heartedly support this Bill. That is because of my experience of about 12 years as an Estate Officer, and about 16 years as an Estate Officer reporting to me. I can say that the areas, which have been addressed in this Bill, are really the problems that an Estate Officer used to face. Regarding the summary provision of three days, I think, there could be nothing better than that because after that, you would definitely go to the civil court and get an injunction, and the salutary effect would be on the damage rent. Actually, the question of damage rent has been mentioned. Generally, the Departments would have their own estate rules. The estate rules specify that after the period is over, for two months, it will be two times; or after six months, it will be four times, eight times and like that. It is mentioned in the rules. Therefore, it is not mentioned here. It will be mentioned in the specific rules. In the Central Government, incidentally, all the Departments all over the country will have a fixed licence fee for a particular category of bungalows, and, therefore, there is no question of having a separate estate office or fixing separate rates. There is no problem on that. My question is that there are incidences in which public premises are occupied, or residential premises are occupied, by people who are not even Government servants. They still unauthorisedly occupy the premises. They have not got a licence or a grant of a licence has not been given to them. This is happening particularly in areas, outside Delhi, in many of the States. I can tell you from my experience in the Office of the Accountant General, in many places, there are people who do not belong to the organisation; they just come and occupy various houses and stay there forcibly. Therefore, the force of law has to be applied there. There is no other way. So, this particular provision is very good. Only this particular aspect has to be addressed that the provisions of the law would still be applicable to a case where the licence has not even been granted, if it is found by the Estate Officer that a particular public residential property has been occupied by somebody. Then, there is the issue of ‘three days’. In his opinion, he issues a summary order of eviction. The damage rent, which has been mentioned, I am not sure whether the intention is, if he is actually continuing in that premise for about six months, will there be a different damage rent applied, and after that, if he goes to court, will there be an increased damage rent that will be taken into account, or, will it be the basic licence fee that will be taken into account? This clarification is required. Besides these two aspects, I really feel there is need to make the law even stronger. Clause 4 requires the occupant to appear before the Estate Officer along with evidence they intend to produce in support of the occupation of the premises. I can tell you that it is very difficult to get somebody to appear before you. You will have to take the Civil Procedure Code to make him appear before you. I think this should be removed. Now, I have some suggestions for improving this entire system. As one hon. Member has said, we have to increase the stock of residential premises. Now, the redevelopment that is taking place, I can tell you that it is happening largely in Delhi and NCT area only. It is not happening all over the country in different offices. If that does happen, I think, you will be taking care of a lot of problems of residential accommodation shortage. The other crucial issue is the maintenance aspect. Maintenance has been relegated to the background in public premises outside the Delhi NCT area. : If the maintenance improves, maybe then, there will be a situation, when people would move into those houses. I know about some places where hundreds of houses are lying vacant. They have neither been demolished nor people are moving into those houses because ...(Time-bell)... they are not habitable. So, I think, such cases should be immediately identified and taken up for redevelopment, in which case, I think, the need for application of the law would not really arise. Thank you so much, Sir.