A bench of Justices R K Agrawal and R Banumathi also agreed to examine when the college authority could demand high rent(license fee) from them for living in official recommendation despite they being denied House Rent Allowance(HRA).
The apex court passed the order on a joint petition filed by 18 professors of IP college, including Assistant Professor Papori Konwar, challenging college administration’s decision to charge rent in the range of Rs 10,000 to Rs 18,000 from them as monthly rent for using official recommendations. They alleged that the decision to demand “exorbitant” rent from them was illegal as they are not given HRA.
The controversy over the rent to be charged from resident professors arose after the Centre took a decision to treat the Accommodation given to the staff of a college on par with accommodation given to the Central Government employees as a result of which those teaching and non-teaching staff, availing accommodation within campus, were denied the benefit of HRA. Centre’s decision was challenged in Delhi High Court and it was upheld by the court. The appeal against HC verdict is pending in the apex court.
In the meantime, IP college fixed the rent for the official recommendation as per the market rate and directed teaching staff to clear the dues of the last three years which in some cases amounted to around Rs 8 Lakh. As the college management threatened the professors to remove them for accommodation on their failure to clear the dues, they approached Supreme Court.
Advocate Anupam Lal Das, appearing for the teachers, contended that petitioners could not be made liable for payment of full Licence Fee and also be denied the benefit of HRA. He told the bench central government employee, who availed official accommodation, were charged less Rs 1000 as licence fee and the college decision to charge exorbitant fee was arbitrary and illegal.
“Whether the staff quarters of college allotted to the petitioners are private accommodation to allow it to charge rent? lf the answer is in affirmative then the petitioners will be entitled to HRA and if the answer is in the negative then the license fee must be fixed in consonance with the rules and circulars regulating fixation of licence fee for Central Government accommodation and other similar accommodation provided by Delhi University,” he said.
Das told the bench that other colleges in Delhi University charge nominal amount of less than Rs 1000 as license fee and there was no justification for IP college to demand Rs 18,000 from its professors for providing residential accommodation. He said that even Delhi HC had ordered constitution of a committee to decide the quantum of licence fee but it was not followed and the college had arbitrarily fixed the fee.
Agreeing to hear their plea, the apex court issued notice to Centre, UGC and IP college and sought their response. “In the meantime, there shall be stay of recovery of licence fee and dispossession,” the bench said.
Source : timesofindia