The state benefit of shelter for migrant cannot be invoked where he had the ability to purchase property and meet his residential needs: High Court of Delhi

The scheme formulated by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Government of India has a stipulation that for the migrant to get the benefit under the Scheme should have no other residence in any part of the country, and in that regard, reference is made to the service book to ascertain if he/she has taken HBA from the government, which suggests, that acquiring a house after availing HBA would disentitle the migrant the benefit of shelter from the State. This was held in GIRJA BHAN. V. THE ESTATE OFFICER AND ANR. [W.P.(C) 7840/2020] in the High Court of Delhi by a single bench consisting of JUSTICE V. KAMESWAR RAO.

The facts are that petitioner was a government servant who retired from the services of respondent Airports Authority of India. Petitioner is seeking to set aside an eviction order passed by respondent No.1 and the direction that the respondent should regularize her allotment of Government accommodation.

The counsel for the petitioner has submitted that no fair hearing was provided to the petitioner. Her case should be considered at par Kashmiri migrants who have been authorized to continue in government accommodation even after retirement from service. He also contended that the petitioner is not an unauthorized occupant as defined under section 28-A (f) of the Airports Authority of India Act, 1994.

The counsel of the respondent submitted that the petitioner had not raised the issue that she is a Kashmir migrant while seeking retention of the flat. It is also submitted that the petitioner had already purchased a flat after taking HBA from the Department and further has a permanent residence in Srinagar.

The court made reference to the judgment of division bench Delhi high court in the case of  Rattan Lal Raina v. Indian Meteorological Department & Anr. UOI., wherein it was held that   We also make it clear that the Central Government would be free to frame a rehabilitation scheme specifically for such retired employees like the respondents and in such a scheme, it can specify the terms and conditions on which such persons would be entitled to rehabilitate/alternate residence, which may include the term that these respondents or their family members do not have any residence in any part of the country. It would also be open to the Government to specify the nature of accommodation to which such retired Government servants would be entitled to or the place where they would be rehabilitated which may not necessarily be in Delhi but can be even in the NCR region”.

The court also made reference to the judgment of Delhi high court in Ravinder Kumar Wali v. UOI and Ors, wherein it was held that “Consequently, the occasion for evicting the retired Government servants who are Kashmiri Pandits and are in occupation of Government accommodation does not arise till such time, as mandated by the DB of this Court, a rehabilitation scheme is not framed and the entitlement of the individuals including the present Appellant to alternative accommodation in terms thereof is not determined. Till such time, as ordered by the Division Bench in Vijay Mam, persons like the Appellant will not be disturbed from their accommodation which is now under their occupation.”

Considering the facts of the case and the legal precedents, the court observed petitioner having retired on June 30, 2019, was allowed to retain the accommodation for six months i.e., till December 31, 2019, and thereafter was an unauthorized occupant, was rightly directed to vacate the same.  The court took into consideration that the petitioner’s daughter is getting married in the month of October 2021, and thus granted an extension till the month of December.

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