The Madras High Court Bench here has directed the superiors of a government servant to refund House Rent Allowance (HRA) deducted from her salary even though she refused to occupy a dilapidated residential quarters allotted to her since it was in an uninhabitable condition.
A Division Bench of Justices V. Ramasubramanian and N. Kirubakaran passed the order while allowing a 2011 writ appeal filed by S. Radhamani Thangatchi, then serving as the manager of Government Industrial Training Institute (ITI) at Pettai in Tirunelveli district since February 2, 2009.
A single judge of the High Court had on November 18, 2010 dismissed her writ petition, for refund of HRA, by citing a 1995 Supreme Court ruling that a government employee had to either accept the accommodation offered by the employer or forfeit the HRA if he/she preferred to live elsewhere.
However, not in agreement with the view taken by the single judge, the Division Bench said that a look at the photographs of the house allotted to the appellant as well as a report of a Public Works Department official would make it clear that the house was not in a good condition.
“It is very unfortunate that though the appellant requested the respondents not to allot the quarters, the second respondent (ITI Principal) erroneously allotted the quarters in favour of the appellant and deducted the amount towards rent from the salary of the appellant.
In eight weeks: “The appellant cannot be made to pay rent for the quarters even though she had not occupied it. Therefore, the order of the principal as well as the order of the single judge are set aside and further direction is given to refund the amount within eight weeks,” the judges ordered.