03 FEBRUARY 2012
Please find attached herewith a complete judgment in PIL case CWP-12628 of 2011 where in the Advocate H.C. Arora (President of the RTIFED) was petitioner. This Judgement was delivered by the the Hon'ble Punjab and Haryana High Court on 25 January and appeared in the section of the print media too, for your ready reference and benefit of the general public at large.
The petition was filed for quashing clauses (4), (7) and (9) of the office order dated 24.9.2010 (P-1) because the same prescribes for allotment of identified residential plots exclusively to the employees of Punjab Urban Development Authority-respondent Nos. 2 and 3 (for brevity, ‘PUDA’) at reserve price. Those employees of PUDA who have already owned residential plots/houses/flats either by purchasing in auction or from open market or by availing house loan facility from PUDA etc. are also eligible. The primary ground of challenge is that the impugned scheme is aimed at enrichment of employees of PUDA as also profiteering by the said categories of employees at the cost of taxpaying public, thus, opposed to public policy.
Brief facts of the case were that the petitioner, a public spirited person and the State President of RTI Activists Federation Punjab and also convener of ‘Action Group Against Corruption’ acted on a news report appeared in all the leading newspapers about the scheme floated by the PUDA for allotment of residential plots to its regular employees including those who already owned residential plots/houses or flats at reserve price. This prompted the petitioner to seek information under the Right to Information Act, 2005 from the Public Information Officer of PUDA. As per the information received by the petitioner under the RTI Act it transpired that the PUDA has framed a scheme for allotment of residential plots to the officers/officials of PUDA and its Directorate, vide office order dated 24.9.2010. Glaring information about those officers/employees who already own residential houses at various places like Ludhiana, Patiala, Jalandhar, Bathinda, Amritsar, Barnala, Panchkula, Mohali etc. but yet submitted applications for allotment of one more residential plot at SAS Nagar, Mohali. Petitioner also placed on record lists of those Class-I and Class-II officers who have submitted applications for allotment of 14 marla plots despite the fact that they own a residential house in their own name or in the name of their spouses. In nut shell, the petitioner has sought to raise an issue of public importance that whether the respondent PUDA, which is State within the meaning of Article 12 of the Constitution being an instrumentality of the State of Punjab, could make allotment of plots to a selected class of employees out of the land acquired at the public expense for a public purpose.
While allowing the writ petion and thus quashing the PUDA's Scheme/office order dated 24.9.2010, the high court noted that "In support of our view we place reliance on the judgment rendered in the case of Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology v. State of Punjab, (1997) 2 SCC 65, Hon’ble the Supreme Court set aside the reservation to the extent of 2% of seats for wards of employees of the Thapar Institute and 5% seats for wards of employees of the Thapar Group of Industries and the same was regarded as violative of Article 14 of the Constitution. In view of the above, the writ petition is allowed. The sheme or any other similar scheme is hereby quashed".
Click here to read/download the High court Judgement.