S.S. Sodhi, J.
1. The controversy here is with regard to the allotment of an M. L. A. Flat to the petitioners-Lachhman Singh Kamboj, a Member of the Legislative Assembly of Haryana who was elected from Indri constituency in May, 1982 and the provision of a telephone to him at his residence in village Hansu Majra. The case of the petitioners being that soon after he had been sworn-in as a Member of the Vidhan Sabha, he had applied to the speaker for the allotment of an M.L.A. Flat and also a Telephone, but to date no such allotment has been made nor any telephone provided. This, he attributed to discrimination against him on the ground that he was a Member of the Janta Party whereas the majority in the Vidhan Sabha belonged to the rival Congress-I party.
2. The Haryana Vidhan Sabha has 22 M.L.A. Flats for allotment to its Members. It would appear from a reading of the return filed by the Secretary of the Vidhan Sabha that 20 of such Flats were allotted by the speaker and the remaining two by the House Committee. This house Committee, here, was constituted on Aug. 28. 1982. It was stated that the petitioners has applied for the allotment of an M.L.A. Flat only on Sept. 8, 1983 by which time all the Flats already stood allotted. The application of the petitioners for allotment of a Flat was, however, forwarded to house Committee and his name had been included in the waiting list.
3. The allotment of M.L.A. Flats to the members of the Haryana Vidhan Sabha is governed by the Haryana Legislators Flats. Servant Quarters and Motor Garages Allotment Rules, 1975 (hereinafter referred to as 'the Rules') Sub-rr (1)(2) and (3) of R. 4 thereof are relevant here. They read as under:--
'(1) The allotment of 75% of Legislators Flats Servant Quarters and Motor Garages shall be made by the House Committee by draw of lots and the remaining 25% shall be made by the Speaker at his own discretion.
(2) After the General Election or from time to time, the Secretary, with the approval of from the Members of the Legislative Assembly. for allotment of Legislators Flats Servant Quarters and Motor Garages up to a specified date and shall place them before the House Committee. The House committee will then allot 75% of the Flats, Servant Quarters and Motor Garages lying vacant on that date by draw of lots.
(3) The Secretary shall maintain a register showing the names of the applicants, date of receipt of applications dates of allotment and particulars of Legislators flats, servant quarters and motor garages so allotted.'
4. According to the procedure laid down by Rules set out above, the Secretary of the Vidhan Sabha is required to invite applications from the members of the Legislative Assembly for allotment of flats and the House Committee has then to proceed to allot 75 per cent thereof by draw of lots. It is only the remaining 25 per cent that the speaker can allot to members of the Legislative Assembly at his discretion. There is no material on record to show that the Secretary of the Vidhan Sabha ever invited applications for allotment of M.L.A. flats indeed, it was conceded by Mr. B. I. Bishnoi, Additional Advocate General, Haryana that no such applications were ever invited. Further it is also the admitted case that no allotment was made here by any draw of lots. 20 out of the 22 flats available for allotment were allotted by the Speaker on his own discretion. This was sought to be justified on the plea that this allotment had been made before the House Committee had been constituted. What was stated in the return, in this behalf, was 'The Ex-Hon'ble member immediately after the General Election when the House committee was not constituted, because the members started pressing the Ex-Hon'ble speaker to allot them Flats as they had no other accommodation to stay at Chandigarh and they could not discharge their duties effectively as Legislators until and unless the accommodation was provided to them. The House Committee was constituted on 28th Aug. 1982, and thereafter the remaining Flats were allotted by the House Committee and the Hon'ble Speaker of Vidhan Sabha respectively.........'. The Additional Advocate General Haryana, could point to no rule or authority which could justify the allotment of M.L.A. Flats in this manner. It is also pertinent to note that there is no mention of these allotments being in accordance with any criteria,. There is thus no escape from the conclusion that there was a blatant disregard of the relevant rules in the allotment of M.L.A. Flats to the Members of the Haryana Legislative Assembly. Arbitrariness in the allotment thereof is thus writ large. Such allotment of M.L.A. Flats cannot be sustained and has accordingly to be quashed.
5. The other point raised by Mr. S. N. Singla, counsel for the petitioners was with regard to the occupation of an M.L.A. Flat by a Minister of the Haryana Government, namely; Shri Lal Singh. The contention being that no Minister could occupy nor be allotted an M.L.A. Flat. According to the rules allotment of M.L.A. Flats can be made only to Members of the Legislative Assembly. It being specifically provided by R. 3 thereof that such flats are meant for the exclusive use of Members and their families and no other person shall be entitled to the use of these premises. 'Member of the Assembly has been defined in S. 2(e) of the Haryana Legislative Assembly (Allowances and Pension of Members) Act, 1974 (hereinafter mentioned as 'the Act') to be, 'a member of the Assembly other than a Minister or Speaker or the Deputy Speaker.' Such being the position in law, the contention that a Minister was not entitled to allotment or occupation of an M.L.A. Flat, must obviously be upheld.
6. As regard the telephone claimed by the petitioners, the stand taken by the respondents in their return was that the provision of a telephone to the petitioners at village Hansu Majra entailed heavy expenditure and on account thereof, he had been asked to indicate alternative location for the installation of a telephone for him, but he had declined to do so and instead insisted upon it being installed in his village. Reference was, in this behalf, made to the correspondence with the Telephone Authorities annexed to the return. A reading thereof shows that the provision of a telephone to the petitioners at village Hansu Majra involves a non-refundable expenditure of over Rs. 87,000/- as this village was 17 Kilometres from the Indri Exchange and in addition the State Government has been called upon to furnish guarantee for payment of rent thereof for a period of ten years at the rate of Rs. 12077/- per annum. Shri B. L. Bishnoi, Additional Advocate-General, Haryana, here laid great stress upon the fact that while the guarantee required to be furnished was for a period of ten years, the term of a Member of the Assembly was at most five-years.
7. The facility of a telephone to a Member of the Legislative Assembly is provided for in sub-sec(2) of S. 6 of the Act, which says 'every member shall at the expense of the State Government, be provided with a telephone at his option either at his permanent place of residence or Chandigarh'. It, however, further goes on to provide that, if for any reason such facility cannot be provided at such place, that is, permanent place of residence or Chandigarh, it may be provided at any other place specified by the Member. It is thus not a mandatory requirement of the law that a Member must be provided a telephone at his permanent place of residence whatever may be the cost or the circumstances involved in doing so. In the present case, the reasons, as set out, in the return for declining this facility to the petitioners in village Hansu Majra cannot be said to be unjustified. Mr. S. N. Singla, counsel for the petitioners, however, stated that telephone lines had since been taken to a village 5 to 7 Kilometers a way from village Hansu Majra and in view thereof, the costs of the provision of a telephone to the petitioners, at his residence in the village would stand greatly reduced thereby. Mr. B. L. Bishnoi, Additional Advocate General. Haryana, very readily agreed that if this was indeed so, the matter would be taken up with the telephone authorities afresh and all efforts would be made to ensure that the petitioners is provided a telephone at his village at the earliest. The petitioners would accordingly be well advised to convey to the Speaker the relevant information regarding the nearby telephone lines as mentioned by his counsel to enable necessary action to be initiated, if however, there is no such change in the circumstances or the cost involved, it would be open to the petitioners to intimate an alternative location for his telephone.
8. In connection with the telephone, the petitioners had made a further claim, namely, payment to him of telephone charges at the rate of Rs. 300/- per month. this is indeed an untenable claim. Payment of the amount claimed can only be made to a member who has been provided with a telephone under sub-sec(2) of S. 6 of the Act. When no such telephone has been provided to the petitioners, no question of any such payment to him arises.
9. Reverting back to the matter relating to the allotment of M.L.A. Flats the allotments of all the 22 flats having been quashed, a direction is hereby issued to the Secretary of the Vidhan Sabha to invite applications for allotment of these Flats within fifteen days from the date of this order, by giving fifteen days time for the filing of applications for allotment by the Members of the Vidhan Sabha. The House committee shall, thereafter, proceed to allot 75 per cent of the flats by draw of lots in accordance with the rules, within fifteen days of the last date for the receipt of such applications. The allotment of the remaining 25 per cent of flats to be made by the speaker shall also be made at the earliest, not later than fifteen days from the allotment of M.L.A. Flats by the House Committee.
10. With these directions, this writ petition is hereby accepted with costs. Counsel fee Rs. 500/-.
D.S. Tewatia, J.
11. 1 agree
12. Petition allowed.