By Amiya Kumar Kushwaha
New Delhi [India], Aug 30 (ANI): The Delhi High Court has refused to grant any relief to a retired Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) professor and asked him to pay the entire licence fee at market rent for over two months for overstaying at the residential complex allotted to him by the varsity observing "compassion beyond the law is not permissible".
A single-judge bench of Justice Prathiba Singh issued the order observing that "no further leniency can be extended" after noting that IGNOU had given sufficient time to the petitioner professor PR Ramanujam for vacating the premises.
"Accordingly, it is directed that for the month of June and July 2020, the Petitioner would be liable to pay the entire license fee at market rent which is 65 times of the license fee. For the month of August 2020 the petitioner would be liable to pay 1/3rd of the proportionate market rent as he had vacated the premises on 10th August 2020," the order issued on Thursday said.
The High Court directed the petitioner to pay the amounts as determined, within eight weeks, failing which the same would be entitled to be recovered, in accordance with the law.
The bench was hearing a petition filed by professor Ramanujam, seeking setting aside IGNOU's orders dated May 21, 2020, and June 5, 2020, and seeking one month's time to vacate the residential accommodation allotted to him citing his disability.
Ramanujam, a founding member of IGNOU and a retired Professor, was superannuated from the university on August 31, 2019. During his tenure at IGNOU, he was allotted residential accommodation at the Asiad Village.
The petitioner had, through an e-mail dated September 4, 2019, sought an extension to retain the allotted flat, as per the House Allotment Rules, for a total period of eight months from his superannuation. On April 24, he had again written to IGNOU Vice Chancellor seeking a further extension for a period of six months due to COVID-19 lockdown.
The competent authority had, through an email dated May 21, 2020, granted permission to retain the flat for another five months but on payment of 65 times the normal license fee. Further communications were again issued on May 29, 2020, and June 5, 2020, reiterating the stand of the varsity that as per the decision of the House Allotment Committee, retention of the flat beyond May 31, 2020, would only be on payment of applicable market rent.
"Compassion beyond the law is not permissible. The Allotment Rules and the binding Notification make it quite clear that any person who overstays would have to pay the damages as applicable. The Petitioner having held such a high position - stated to be the second-highest position in IGNOU, ought to be equally bound by the rules that apply," the order said.
"This Court has also granted the Petitioner extension till 10th August 2020. Force majeure conditions would not mean that payment, which the Petitioner is liable to make, can be completely discounted," it added.
The High Court also noted that the House Allotment Committee took special care to consider the petitioner's disability case and he has retired in August 2019, six-seven months before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. (ANI)
By Amiya Kumar Kushwaha