HC orders Tamil Nadu govt to withhold salaries of officials over non-payment of rent

Madras HC has directed the Tamil Nadu government not to disburse the salaries of some state officials over failure to pay the rent of a taluk office premises.

PTI| Updated: Sep 26, 2017, 19:04 PM IST

Chennai: The Madras High Court has directed the Tamil Nadu government not to disburse the salaries of the state revenue secretary, a district collector and another official over failure to pay the rent of a taluk office premises here.

Justice S Vaidyanathan recently passed the order on a writ petition filed by Farida Shaukath, owner of the premises from where the Madhavaram taluk office is functioning since 2009.

The judge clarified that until the lease agreement containing the periodical revision of the lease amount is entered into and the arrears of rent as on date are cleared, the secretary to government, revenue department, district collector of Thiruvallur and the tahsildar (revenue officer) of Madhavaram taluk office shall not draw any salary.

Allowing the petition, the judge said, "The arrears of rent had to be paid and the lease agreement has got to be entered into between the petitioner and the respondents and the petitioner being an old Muslim lady, aged about 67 years, driving her from pillar to post is not justified.... The action of the respondents on the issue is perfunctory."

"Hence, this court finds that there is prima-facie substance in the contentions of the petitioner...," it said.

The petitioner submitted that in December 2009, the revenue authorities had approached her to take the property on rent for the purpose of establishing a taluk office in Madhavaram.

Following talks, it was agreed that a monthly rent of Rs 1,20,000 will be paid for letting out the premises, she said.

Though initially the petitioner was apprehensive about letting out the premises to the state government, however, on an assurance given by the revenue officials that the lease agreement would be entered into, the petitioner had given consent for the same.

On December 22, 2009, however, the tahsildar had entered the premises and took possession of the same stating that the establishment of taluk office was of great urgency, the petitioner said.

Further, an acknowledgement for taking on lease the premises was given by signing the letter issued by her, she claimed.

The revenue inspector had also issued a letter confirming the functioning of the taluk office on the premises of the petitioner with effect from December 23, 2009.

However, she was made to run from pillar to post to enter into written agreement and the tahsildar also backtracked saying the rent was fixed by PWD at Rs 98,925 per month, the petitioner added.

The judge said, "The lease agreement shall be entered into between the petitioner and the concerned respondent (s)/competent authority, within a period of 30 days from the date of receipt of a copy of this order."

The arrears of rent from May 2016 till the date of entering into the agreement has got to be paid and the monthly rent shall be paid on or before 5th of every subsequent month, he said.

Similarly, the arrears of rent will also have to be paid within 30 days from the date of receipt of a copy of this order, the court said.

"Till such time the lease agreement containing the periodical revision of the lease amount, if agreed upon by the petitioner, is entered into and the arrears of rent as on date are cleared, all the three respondents shall not draw any salary and the government shall not disburse their salary to them," the judge added.