Published: 28th April 2022
#WhatTheFAQ: Eviction of Padma awardees without notices? What's the state of eminent recipients?
Daughter of Padma awardee Mayadhar Raut questioned why notices were not given regarding the proceedings. Let's decode what's happening
The Union Ministry has started the process of evicting artists who had been allotted government bungalows on rent in Asiad village in the 1980s. These include several Padma and Sangeet Natak Akademi awardees.
Since the 70s, the artists were allotted accommodations at nominal rents for three-year terms, which were extended regularly. As their extensions expired in 2014, there has been a constant back and forth of letters between the artists and the Culture Ministry. Notices were issued by the Housing Ministry in 2020. Some, including late Kathak exponent Birju Maharaj, dhrupad exponent Wasifuddin Dagar, Kuchipudi guru Jayarama Rao and Mohiniyattam exponent Bharati Shivaji, had moved the court.
What is the government's policy on this?
Up to 40 artistes can be allotted accommodation under a special quota in the General Pool Residential Accommodation on the recommendation of the Culture Ministry if they earned under Rs 20,000 a month. The allotment continues till the expiry of the concessional period permissible under the rules after the allottee ceases to be on duty in an eligible office; allottee is in Government service; it is cancelled by the Directorate of Estates; surrendered by the allottee or they cease to occupy the accommodation.
What did the Delhi High Court say?
Initially, on humanitarian grounds, the court supported the decision and directed the official to give some more time till April 25. Further, Rita Ganguly challenged a single judge's decision to vacate government alloted residences by April-end. Acknowledging this, the Delhi High court refused to grant her more time to vacate the premises.
A Bench of Acting Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Navin Chawla had said it would not grant even one more day and noted that the single judge was more than benevolent while granting her two months’ time.
So, what are the officials saying?
Out of 28 such accommodations, 17 artists have already vacated and the remaining have communicated that they will do so in a few days. They have given a written note stating that they will be moving out before May 2.
But why the sudden need for eviction now?
The legal proceedings show a timeline where artists hang in hope with no favourable judgement of court on their side. They continued staying in those, delaying the process and citing various reasons. Now, with the Bench's judgement, the officials have started the eviction process, as the deadlines for vacating houses expired.
What are the awardees' families saying?
Ninety-one-year-old Padma awardee Guru Mayadhar Raut expressed shock at the decision, as the officials came in and began throwing things away. Madhumita Raut, daughter of the Guru, questioned why notices were not given for the proceedings and said that had the officials given sometime, they would have vacated, according to a report by India Today.
According to Mohiniyattam exponent and Padma Shree awardee Bharati Shivaji, 74, who lives with her 98-year-old mother and also received the eviction notices, the incident with Guru Mayadhar was too painful, which is why she has packed up her belongings and sent them to a storage facility while looking for an affordable apartment in Delhi, as reported by The Indian Express.