Uttarakhand High Court directs Secretary, Estate Dept to list govt accommodation under unauthorized occupancy


The Uttarakhand High Court directed the Secretary, Uttarakhand State Estate Department, to compile information in respect of all government accommodation which are occupied unauthorizedly; to compute penal charges/ rent payable by them and; to initiate proceedings for their eviction from government accommodations, if not already done, and; to recover penal charges from such unauthorized occupants.

The Division Bench of Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Alok Kumar Verma disposed of a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by one Sunil Prasad Bhatt claiming there are several persons who are in illegal occupation of government residences under Pooled Housing Scheme at New Tehri.

The petitioner sought a direction to the respondents to evict the illegal occupants, and also to recover rent from them as per the Rules.

Along with the petition, the petitioner has placed on record information obtained under the Right to Information Act. This information dates back to 2019. Considering the passage of time, the Court said it is not inclined to act on the basis of said information. The petitioner has also placed on record one instance of 2021, where notice has been issued to one Retired Administrative Officer, Election Office, New Tehri, dated 04.01.2021, from whom recovery is sought to be made of penal rent. According to the petitioner, the respondents are not taking any effective steps to either get unauthorized occupants evicted, or recover occupational charges/ penal rent from illegal occupants.

"Government accommodation is meant to be occupied by government servants who are entitled to the same under the Rules. It is not uncommon to see government accommodation not being vacated by the government servants once they retire, or are transferred, and they continue to hold the accommodation even after their entitlement thereto has come to an end; without obtaining any extension, or; without making payment for their continued occupation," held the High Court.

The Court said this creates difficulties for others who may become entitled to allotment of such accommodations. Government accommodation is allotted to government servants near to their place of work/ posting, so as to enable them to discharge their duties and responsibilities efficiently and effectively. Non-availability of government accommodation to those, who are entitled to it, is bound to impact the efficiency and functioning of government servants who are denied such accommodation due to their occupation by unauthorized occupants.

"We, therefore, dispose of this writ petition with a direction to the Secretary, Uttarakhand State Estate Department, to compile information in respect of all government accommodations which are in unauthorized occupation; to compute penal charges/ rent payable by such unauthorized occupants for the accommodation unauthorizedly held by them; to initiate proceedings for eviction of such unauthorized occupants of government accommodations, if not already done, and; to recover penal charges from such unauthorized occupants. Steps in these terms should be taken within four weeks under intimation to the petitioner. In case, the respondents do not act, it shall be open to the petitioner to seek revival of this petition," the order reads.