Employees’ housing scheme: HC asks Chandigarh admn to construct flats within one year - Hindustan Times
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Employees’ housing scheme: HC asks Chandigarh admn to construct flats within one year

By, Chandigarh
Jun 09, 2024 07:32 AM IST

As per the judgment, the cost of construction is to be paid by the employees at current rates; however, cost of the entire land meant for implementation of the scheme will remain at the rate of ₹7,920 per square yard, as announced in 2008

While ruling that UT employees, who had applied for the 2008 Self-Financing Employee Housing Scheme, will get the flats at brochure rates of the same year, the Punjab and Haryana high court has directed the Chandigarh administration to construct the flats within one year.

The cost of the entire land meant for implementation of the scheme will remain at the rate of <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>7,920 per square yard, as announced in 2008. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
The cost of the entire land meant for implementation of the scheme will remain at the rate of 7,920 per square yard, as announced in 2008. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

“… a direction is passed upon the Chandigarh administration as well as the Chandigarh Housing Board to commence constructions in terms of the scheme within a period of two months from today, and, also a direction is passed upon the board to, through its agent or contractor, complete the said constructions within a year... (It is directed that) encumbrance free delivery of possession of flats is made to the successful employees within two months thereafter, along with all amenities being provided to all dwelling units,” the detailed judgment from the bench of justice Sureshwar Thakur and justice Lalit Batra said. The judgment was pronounced on May 30 and released now.

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As per the judgment, the cost of construction is to be paid by the employees at current rates. However, cost of the entire land meant for implementation of the scheme will remain at the rate of 7,920 per square yard, as announced in 2008.

Around 4,000 flats were to be built in Sectors 52, 53 and 56 by the Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB) for government employees as part of the scheme, launched in 2008.

The project comprised 252 3BHK flats with servant quarters, 168 2BHK flats with servant quarters, 3,066 1BHK flats and 444 single-room flats for Group D employees.

A draw of lots was held in 2010, in which 3,930 employees among 7,911 applicants were selected. They had then deposited around 57 crore with the CHB under the scheme.

However, the project ran into rough weather, as the administration could not make requisite land available for the purpose.

In October 2013, when employees realised that UT was dillydallying, they approached the high court, demanding that flats be allotted at the same rates asked for in 2008, within a time-bound manner.

In the past 16 years, as many as 100 employees, who had opted for the scheme, have died.

In high court, UT initially had argued that as per a 2012 letter of department of expenditure, Union government, no land belonging to government could be sold to a local authority, body or any person or institution without prior sanction and specific approval from the Centre. Also, it had to be given on commercial rates. The central government on January 2, 2019, cleared the scheme, although at prevailing collector rate.

This resulted in a major spike in the flats’ rates due to higher cost of land, prompting the employees to move the Punjab and Haryana high court.

While during the launch of the scheme in 2008, UT offered 3BHK flats for 34.70 lakh, 2BHK flats for 24.30 lakh and 1BHK flats for 13.53 lakh; their prices had jumped to 1.76 crore; 1.35 crore; and 99 lakh, respectively.

In February this year, UT had informed the court that it had decided not to go ahead with the scheme, as it was no longer viable. Following this, the court had heard the matter on merit.

In the May 30 order, the court said the 2012 circular was issued in “colourable exercise of power” by the executive and is having prospective operation, whereas the scheme was launched in 2008.

The court said the UT administrator had overall superintendence and control over the working of CHB and the scheme was launched with his nod. “However, it appears that as senior officers/officials of the Chandigarh administration were not successful in the draw of lots, they lost interest in the scheme and, thus, inaction on the part of the board to comply with terms and conditions of letter(s) of intent, dated 10.01.2008, coupled with lack of exercise of superintendence and control over the said board by the UT administrator, all these factors led to non-implementation of the scheme,” it recorded.

The court further held that the entire controversy arose on account of inaction on the part of the board due to non-deposit of 25% of cost of land with the UT administration within stipulated time, despite the fact that a sum of 57 crore was deposited by the successful employees and it had 300 crore in its account.

Consequently, the UT administration cancelled the land allotment in 2010 and no fault of employees can be found in this.

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