New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has suspended IAS officer Udit Prakash Rai, of the Arunachal Pradesh-Goa-Mizoram and Union Territory (AGMUT) cadre, to vacate his official bungalow in Delhi.
Rai, accused of demolishing a historical monument to construct a government accommodation, was instructed to vacate the premises along with his family.
It further ordered that an alternative accommodation be allotted to him.
Rai was assigned a bungalow in Jal Vihar during his tenure as the CEO of the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) from October 18, 2021, to May 31, 2022, and is currently serving as a secretary in Mizoram.
Rai’s wife Shilpi Udit Rai had challenged a July 28 notice from the DJB requesting them to vacate the bungalow within 15 days. During the hearing, the respondents – Delhi government standing counsel Santosh Kumar Tripathi, lawyers for the DJB, and the Delhi Chief Secretary – did not object to Rai being entitled to government accommodation in Delhi despite his current posting in Mizoram.
The lawyer representing Rai’s wife stated that they would submit a representation to the Principal Secretary, Public Works Department (PWD) for allotment of a house according to applicable rules. It was also assured they would vacate the current bungalow in a reasonable timeframe.
Justice Prateek Jalan directed the Principal Secretary, PWD, to process the representation within two weeks and allocate an accommodation as per the rules.
The court also asked Rai’s wife to provide an undertaking within a week, assuring that they would vacate the accommodation. The court asked whether Rai had the right to retain the accommodation after being transferred out of the city. Rai’s counsel argued that his posting in Mizoram was a “hard posting,” entitling him to retain the Delhi accommodation.
The court also asked how a DJB house could be handed over to someone who was no longer in its office.
The judge said that he did not delve into various contentions raised by the parties, including allotment of accommodation to Rai, the allegations of demolition of a heritage monument, and the subsequent construction of the bungalow. He observed the allegations against the officer are such that he will take them very seriously and will also examine them.
Rai was suspended by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), and departmental proceedings were initiated against him due to his alleged involvement in constructing an official accommodation after the demolition of a 15th-century monument during his tenure as the DJB’s CEO. The monument, a historic palace, was located in the Jal Vihar area of southeast Delhi.