‘Can’t deduct rent of staff who refuses govt accommodation’
Quashes disciplinary action, directs authorities to refund deducted fees, HRA and TA. Satya Prakash writes. Satya Prakash writes.delhi Updated: Jan 08, 2012 22:57 IST
An employee’s refusal to occupy a government accommodation unilaterally allotted to him cannot be treated as misconduct and authorities cannot deduct rent towards such accommodation from his salary, the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) has ruled.
A bench of CAT chairman VK Bali and member Ramesh Chandra Panda on December 23 said government was obliged to refund the rent deducted from the salary of an employee who had been allotted official accommodation without applying for it.
The ruling came on a petition by Pramod Kumar, a technical officer in Dehradun who was transferred to the research centre of central soil and water conservation research and training institute at Datia in MP on July 24, 2002. The authorities allotted him quarter on June 17, 2003 and directed him to occupy it by June 30, 2003, otherwise rent would be deducted from his salary.
Kumar’s case was that, the said quarter lacked basic amenities like electricity and drinking water and he informed the authorities that he was not interested as his family was in Dehradun. But the licence fee and HRA were deducted from his salary from September 2003.
When he objected, on June 6, 2004 he was asked to look after the maintenance of new office-cum-laboratory building and civil and electrical works of residential quarters and his services were declared as essential.
Rejecting his representations, the authorities on April 12, 2007 directed him to live in the quarter else face action. Notwithstanding his April 26, 2007 reply, Kumar was placed under suspension by an order dated May 11, 2007 under Rule 10(1) of CCS (CCA) Rules, 1965.
A charge memo dated October 9, 2007 was issued to him alleging that as technical officer he disobeyed instructions of the head, research centre, Datia as well as the directions issued to him regarding occupying the quarter allotted. It was alleged that he exhibited lack of devotion to duty and acted in manner unbecoming of a council’s employee. Inquiry was conducted and charges were proved.
The disciplinary authority passed order on July 19 2008 imposing penalty of reduction by two stages from 8300 to 7900 in the time scale of pay of 6500-200-10500 for a period of two years with immediate effect. It was also directed that he would not get increments during the period of reduction and on the expire of this period of reduction would have the effect of postponing his future increment. On his representation, the authorities modified the penalty to non-cumulative but kept the rest as unchanged.
However, the CAT quashed the disciplinary proceedings and directed the authorities to refund the licence fee deducted from Kumar’s salary for the period of non-occupation of the quarter allotted to him.
It also directed that he would also be granted admissible HRA and transport allowance for the period he stayed in rented accommodation.
“The fact remains that applicant discharged his duties and carried out the functions given to him. The only disobedience which has been attributed to
him is non-occupation of the quarter allotted to him… non-occupation of a quarter unilaterally allotted to him by no stretch of imagination could be called as disobedience, less to speak of a misconduct,” the bench said.