“Govt accommodation meant for serving officers, not retirees”: J&K and Ladakh High Court directs retired SBI employees to vacate flats within 30 days

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Justice Sindhu Sharma of the Jammu Kashmir and Ladakh High Court has recently held that Government accommodations are meant for 'serving officers' and 'not retirees'. 

The single-judge bench has further held that retired employees do not possess an indefeasible right for allotment of government accommodation.

Court was hearing a petition filed by retired Chief Manager, Manager, and Deputy Manager of State Bank of India (SBI), alleging that to oust them, the Bank had illegally started deducting rent towards the flats that were allotted to them during their employment, at a commercial rate from their pension accounts.

The retired employees contended that they were migrants and had suffered the calamity which struck in 1990, due to which the minority community of the 'Kashmiri Pandits' migrated from the Kashmir Valley to Jammu and various other States.

It was further their case that the state, as well as the Central Government, had allotted residential accommodation to those migrant employees, who were forced to leave Kashmir Valley by abandoning their moveable and immoveable property.

To this, Court said, “The petitioners were not allotted the accommodation based on their being migrants from the Valley rather the accommodation was allotted to them by their being serving employees of the Bank on the nominal license fee."

Further reliance was placed on an Apex Courts judgment in JL Koul and others v. State of J&K and others (2009), wherein the Court ordered, “the State to take all endeavors to rehabilitate the person who has been a victim of terrorism and till the State can rehabilitate and provide the appropriate accommodation to 31 appellants-retirees/oustees, they shall continue to possess the accommodations which are in their respective possession on this date.”

Responding to this, Court observed that the ruling was not applicable in the present case, as the persons in JL Koul case were permitted to retain their respective accommodation at Jammu for safety reasons.

Furthermore, on being informed that former Chief Manager and Manager had purchased flats in Delhi and Mohali, and the former Deputy Manager had applied for a housing loan to buy a new house, Court observed,

“The petitioners are possessing their accommodation, as per their choice in Delhi and Mohali and still retained the official accommodation allotted to them at nominal charges denying the same to those other serving employees, which they require to facilitate in the discharge of their duties.”

Conclusively, the Court while dismissing the petition held,

“...considering the fact that all petitioners are retired employees, as such, 30 days is granted to them to vacate and hand over the possession of the flats to the respondents-authorities.”

Case Title: Indar Krishan Raina and others vs. Union of India and others.