Government employee cannot claim HRA while sharing rent-free accommodation allotted to his father, a retired government servant: SC

The Supreme Court on Thursday said that a government employee cannot claim HRA while sharing the rent-free accommodation allotted to his father, a retired government servant.

The bank of Judges BR Gavai and Sandeep Mehta heard the appeal against the judgment of the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh wherein the Division Bench dismissed the Letters Patent Appeal preferred by the appellant and upheld the order of the Single Judge dismissing the writ petition filed by the appellant.

In this case, the appellant, who served as an Inspector (Telecom) in the Jammu and Kashmir Police, retired on April 30, 2014. After his retirement, he received a message from the Director of Police, Telecom regarding the recovery of outstanding rents. to unauthorized withdrawals of housing allowance (HRA).

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This action was taken under Rule 6(h) of the Jammu and Kashmir Civil Services (House Rent Allowance and City Compensation Allowance) Rules, 1992, based on a complaint received by the authorities alleging that the appellant was using government accommodation while simultaneously receiving HRA. .

The appellant was directed to deposit an amount of Rs.3,96,814/- which was found to be withdrawn as HRA without entitlement. He was also given the opportunity to submit documents showing that the quarter in question (quarter no. 6-A) did not fall under his profession or possession. However, as the appellant failed to satisfy the authorities on this point, a recovery order was issued. The appellant challenged this recovery order in court and subsequently in the Letters Patent Appeal, but both attempts were unsuccessful.

Purnima Bhat, The counsel for the trial court submitted that the quarter in question was unmistakably allotted in the name of the appellant’s father who was a pensioner. Deputy Superintendent of Police. The appellant occasionally shared the official living quarters assigned to his father. She urged that the High Court should gloss over the relevant clauses of Rule 6(h) of the 1992 Rules while dismissing both the writ petition and the appeal filed by the appellant as only one part of the said rule was taken into consideration taken while ignoring the part which favorably covers the appellant’s case. The pertinent contention of the counsel was that if the High Court had taken into consideration the provisions contained in Rule 6(h)(iv), the recovery notice could not have been sustained.

Parth Awasthi, Counsel for the State emphasized that the appellant had indisputable residence in the fifth government quarter allotted to his father and, therefore, under Rule 6(h)(i) and (ii) reproduced above, he was not entitled to any HRA claim.

The Supreme Court noted that the appellant’s father namely Mr. HK Munshi had retired way back in 1993 and thus it is axiomatic that he would not be entitled to HRA after his resignation. It is true that Quarter No. 6-A was allotted to the father of the appellant as being a displaced Kashmiri Pandit and a retired Government servant, but the fact remains that he would not be entitled to HRA after his retirement.

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The bank has further stated this the reliance placed by counsel for the appellant on Rule 6(h)(iv) is misplaced as the said provision is not applicable to the present situation. Rules 6(h)(i) and 6(h)(ii), which were brought into play by the High Court on account of the dismissal of the challenge filed by the appellant against the recovery notice, clearly cover the controversy. Under these two clauses, the appellant, being a government servant, could not have claimed the HRA while sharing a rent-free accommodation allotted to his father, a retired government servant. There is no dearth of impugned orders justifying interference.

In view of the foregoing, the Supreme Court declared the appeal unfounded.

Case title: RK Munshi v. Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir and Ors.

Bank: Judges BR Gavai and Sandeep Mehta

Case number: Originating from SLP (civil) number(s). 43 OF 2022

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