The Madras High Court has dismissed a petition by 17 Assistant Agricultural Officers (AAOs), who sought a direction to department authorities not to recover House Rent Allowance from their salary till they occupied government quarters fit for residential purposes.

Interim injunction

In 2008, the court had granted interim injunction pending the writ petition by P. Kasimaayan and 16 others.

In the counter, the Joint Director of Agriculture submitted that the department had not accepted that the government quarters were unfit for dwelling.

No proposal submitted

No proposal had been submitted by petitioners to the Public Works Department, through the officers concerned, for getting the quarters repaired.

The petitioners were not permitted to take houses on rent. Not residing in government quarters allotted to them without authorisation was violation of rules.

In his order, Justice K.Chandru cited various decisions of the High Court and the Supreme Court.

In an identical circumstance, when a similar matter came up, the High court had rejected the petition. The Supreme Court, while dealing with an almost identical circumstance, had said that the investment in constructing and maintaining quarters would be a waste if they were to lie unoccupied.

“HRA is not a matter of right. It is in lieu of accommodation not made available to the employees. This being the case, it follows that whenever the accommodation is offered, the employees have either to accept it or forfeit HRA.”

Mr. Justice Chandru said with reference to the scope of judicial review in the matter of housing accommodation, the Supreme Court had held that “while exercising the power of judicial review of administrative action, the court is not the appellate authority and the Constitution does not permit the court to direct or advise the executive in the matter of policy.”

The Supreme Court had also said that “correctness of the reasons which prompted the government in decision-making taking one course of action instead of another is not a matter of concern in judicial review and the court is not the appropriate forum for such investigation.”

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