The Punjab and Haryana High Court has quashed a scheme floated by the Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA) wherein it had decided to allot residential plots exclusively to its own employees at a reserve price.
A division bench,comprising Justices M M Kumar and Rajiv Narain Raina,quashed an order issued by the PUDA office on September 24,2010 to allot residential plots to its staff in Ludhiana,Mohali.
The directive came while hearing a petition filed by HC Arora,a lawyer, in which it was alleged that the scheme was aimed at enrichment of PUDA employees at the cost of taxpaying public. As per the order,Punjab Urban Development Authority had planned to allot plots to even those employees who already owned a house. Arora had furnished documents obtained under the Right to Information (RTI) Act,which detailed that more than a thousand PUDA officers had submitted applications seeking allotment of plots despite already having residential plots.
The Punjab government defended the scheme stating that there have been instances in the past wherein certain concessions were given to the state employees.
To this,the High Court said,If any scheme has to be framed,it has to cover all employees working with government,corporations and authorities.
To postulate that the object of the scheme is to confer benefit on PUDA employees who have fixed income would amount to achieving an object which is not based on a rationale.
The Bench further ruled that the scheme appears to have been finalised only by the Chief Administrator, Punjab Urban Development Authority,and not by the state government,which again is a distinguishing feature and smacks of arbitrariness.