"They spend their lives serving the nation": Delhi High Court directs MHA to grants HRA benefit to CAPF officers

The HRA benefit is currently limited only to the Personnel Below Officer Rank (PBOR) in the CAPF though it is granted to all personnel serving with Army, Air Force and Navy.
Delhi High Court
Delhi High Court

The Delhi High Court on Friday directed the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and the Ministry of Finance to provide House Rent Allowance (HRA) to all the personnel serving with the Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) including officers [Praveen Yadav and Ors v Union of India and Ors].

The CAPF includes forces like Border Security Force and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).

At present, the HRA benefit is limited only to the Personnel Below Officer Rank (PBOR) in the armed police forces. The benefit is given to personnel of all ranks in the Indian Army, Air Force and Navy.

A division bench of Justices Suresh Kumar Kait and Saurabh Banerjee passed the order observing that the government cannot be permitted to take discriminatory view for personnel of different forces deployed in common areas for grant of HRA.

“…the benefit of HRA shall not be confined to only PBORs but shall be extended to all the personnel of the Forces irrespective of their rank, as per their entitlement. Further, respondents are directed to take necessary steps within six weeks of this judgment, in consultation with the Ministry of Home Affairs as well as Ministry of Finance, to grant benefit of HRA to the petitioners and similarly situate personnel with effect from passing of this judgment,” the Court ordered.

The Court was dealing with a bunch of petitions filed by officers serving in the CAPF. It was argued that the petitioners and other similarly situated persons are not provided government accommodation nor are they paid HRA for keeping their families at different locations.

The bench was informed that after a representation was made by the petitioners, the competent authority under the seventh Pay Commission recommended that the personnel of the uniformed services can keep their families at any location and they would be paid HRA for the same. However, the recommendations were confined only to PBORs and not extended to the Group-A officers.

An office memorandum (OM) to the same effect was also issued on July 37, 2017.

The petitioners then preferred another representation for grant of similar benefit. This was rejected by the MHA on March 15, 2018.

After hearing the arguments, the bench said that it failed to understand why, despite recognising lack of proper compensation and need of paying HRA to the employees, the seventh Pay Commission only thought of giving parity to the PBORs of CAPF at par with PBORs of Defence Forces (Army, Navy and Air Force) and left behind officers.

“We are unable to find any reason as to why officers belonging to the rank of Officers / Coy Commanders or PBROs, should not be granted similar benefit more so as the factum of their serving at far off locations has been recognized and it cannot be differentiated on cadre basis. We fail to understand why such policy decisions discriminating within the force should be permitted to continue, especially to the officers of the force who spend their lives serving the nation,” the Court said.

Therefore, the court set aside the decision of the MHA rejecting the petitioner's request for grant of the HRA benefit. It also partly set aside the OM and the signal which limited the benefit only to PBORs.

Advocates Ankur Chhibber and Anshuman Mehrotra appeared for the petitioners.

Central Government Standing Counsel Bhagwan Swarup Shukla along with advocates Vikrant, Sarvan Kumar, Sanjeev Uniyal and Dhawal Uniyal appeared for the government.

[Read Judgment]

Praveen Yadav and Ors v Union of India and Ors.pdf
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