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Vinod Kumar, Hindustan Times
Chandigarh, August 03, 2013
In a major blow to the Chandigarh Industrial and Tourism Development Corporation (CITCO), the Punjab and Haryana high court has granted two-week time to the UT administration for getting vacated government accommodations occupied by the employees of CITCO and to fix irregularities pertaining to house allotment.

The UT administration has been asked to get around 50 houses occupied by CITCO employees vacated which were allotted after 1996. According to norms, the employees of CITCO are not entitled to government accommodation.

Appearing for the petitioner, advocate Sanjeev Sharma argued that the houses illegally being occupied by CITCO employees should be got vacated and reverted to the general pool for further allotment to the genuine people in the waiting list.

During the hearing of the case, the senior standing counsel appearing on behalf of the administration stated that as per Rule 22(2) of the Government Residences (Chandigarh Administration General Pool) Allotment Rules, 1996, it was specifically provided that those ineligible employees who had been allotted houses under the 1972 rules would be entitled to retain those houses till death/ transfer/ dismissal/ retirement and on such event occurring, those houses would revert back to the Chandigarh administration.

The standing counsel accepted that despite this moratorium some houses thereafter were not surrendered to the administration but were re-allotted to ineligible employees. He urged the court to give two-week time to the authorities concerned for a final opportunity to rectify the illegality.

Following a petition filed in the court by an employee of the administration, the court on December 12, 2012, had imposed embargo on CITCO for further allotment of houses to its employees. Thereafter, CITCO had decided to set up a residential colony for its staff.

CITCO had approached the administration for allotment of about three acres of land in the city for construction of residential accommodations for its staff.

CITCO proposes to construct about 100 flats for different categories of employees, including two- and three-bedroom flats ranging from 900 to 1,650 square feet. The construction cost has been worked out at about Rs. 16.5 crore, excluding the cost of land.

CITCO is said to have surplus funds of about Rs. 25 crore invested in fixed deposits in public sector banks.

What conversion entails

An employee of the administration had moved high court stating that employees of CITCO, who otherwise are not eligible either under the rules or in accordance with the law framed by court, had been allotted government houses.

A full bench of the high court in a decision in 1985 had held that the employees of central government undertakings, employees of government-control corporations for states of Punjab, Haryana and UT such as CITCO are not entitled to the allotment of government houses.

Flouting the directions of the court and house allotment rules with impunity, CITCO over the years had been allotting houses to its employees. As per rules, a house falling vacant on the retirement of an employee has to come in the Chandigarh administration general pool and can thereafter be allotted in accordance with Government Residences Allotment Rules, 1996, strictly in accordance with seniority.