Shimla, July 28
The High Court today ordered the Secretary (GAD) and Director of Estates Directorate to ensure that there was a fair and transparent procedure adopted by them in allocating government housing strictly in accordance with the HP Allotment of Government Residential (General Pool) Rules, 1994.
A Divisional Bench comprising Justice Tarlok Singh and Justice Sandeep Sharma further ordered that details of the ‘first come, first served’ application and other details be uploaded, along with the award orders. do from time to time. on the official website within 24 hours of the award order(s).
The court adopted these directions on a petition filed by a driver in the High Court, saying he had been allocated accommodation in 2021. As the accommodation (according to the petitioner) was not suitable for him as it was remote from the road and there were stairs making it difficult for his elderly and sick parents to live with him in the accommodation.
As a result, he applied for a change of accommodation through the appropriate channel on March 22, 2021.
Whereas, on August 23, 2021, the Estate Manager issued a letter giving approval for the change of accommodation to Secretariat Driver Chaman Lal on the recommendation of the then Additional Chief Secretary (Forest & Aurveda) and rejected the petitioner’s request. It was argued that the claimant requested a change of accommodation on March 23, 2021, well before Chaman Lal’s request.
While striking the additional chief secretary, the court observed, “The issuance of a DO note (letter of recommendation) at the request of the additional chief secretary is clearly in violation of the rules.” Agreed by the action of the official respondents in allocating the accommodation in question to the respondent Chaman Lal, the petitioner applied to the High Court to quash and annul the allotment.
The court further observed: “It is extremely regrettable that the high-ranking officer was completely oblivious to the fact that the office entrusted to him is a sacred mission and is meant to be used and not abused. Holders of the office cannot act as despots or monarchs and are required to act in accordance with the principles of democracy, equity, equality and solidarity and above all, in accordance with the rules governing the domain. It was as a result of sharp and illegal practices followed by such an officer that the applicant was deprived of accommodation to which he was legitimately entitled.
Addressing state officials heavily, the court observed: “Unfortunately, this is not an isolated case where official sponsors have been found guilty of blatantly and shamelessly violating the rules. There have been many occasions when the court has been compelled to suspend even the powers of the government in allocating housing only because there was a large scale of blunders and irregularities in the same and this is not is nothing less than a “scam”.
The court ordered the Secretary (GAD) and the Director of Estates to return the accommodation to the applicant no later than August 16, 2022.