The Delhi High Court today asked expelled TMC Lok Sabha MP Mahua Moitra to approach the Directorate of Estates with a request for allowing her to continue to occupy the government quarters allotted to her which was cancelled after her expulsion.

Justice Subramoniun Prasad, while dealing with the Trinamool Congress leader's challenge to an official intimation asking her to vacate the government bungalow by January 7 on account of cancellation of the allotment following her expulsion, noted that the rules permitted the authorities to allow a resident to overstay for up to six months on payment of certain charges in exceptional circumstances.

"Move a representation before the Directorate of Estates and there action will be taken in accordance with the law," the Judge said.

The Court allowed Moitra to withdraw her petition and noted it has not made any observations on the merits of the matter. It said the Directorate of Estates shall decide her case after applying its own mind.

It added law mandates issuing notice to a resident before eviction and the government has to take steps to evict the petitioner in accordance with law.

Senior Advocate Pinaki Mishra, appearing for Moitra, said the former MP should be permitted to occupy the government bungalow till the upcoming general elections as it was difficult for her to search for an alternative accommodation at present.

The Court was also informed there was no stay on her expulsion by the Supreme Court.

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 challenged her expulsion in the Supreme Court after the Lok Sabha adopted the report of its ethics committee recommending her ouster.

During the hearing, Justice Prasad asked the petitioner's counsel as to what the high court could do when the Apex Court did not stay the order of expulsion which resulted in cancellation of her government accommodation.

The Senior Lawyer said the two issues were different and the question of government accommodation was not raised before the Supreme Court.

However, considering that Moitra was yet to approach the authorities with a request for retaining the premises, the Court disposed of the petition and allowed her to file an appropriate representation.

In her petition, Moitra urged that the Directorate of Estates' December 11 order cancelling her allotment be set aside or, in the alternative, she be allowed to retain possession of the accommodation till the results of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections are declared.

"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. 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.

"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 claimed.

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.

With PTI Inputs