The Bombay High Court held that per the housing allotment rules, every employee cannot demand accommodation as a matter of right.

The Court dismissed the Appeal filed by the Air India Staff Colony Association challenging the order of the Civil Court denying ad interim relief regarding demolition of buildings.

The Court noted that per the regulations, allocated accommodations are considered licensees, and the housing serves primarily as a welfare function.

The Bench of Justice R. N. Laddha observed, “the provisions of the Housing Allotment Rules demonstrate that every employee cannot demand accommodation as a matter of right. The Rules make it clear that the allottee of the accommodation would merely be a licensee, and the housing is merely a welfare function”.

Advocate Ashok D. Shetty appeared for the Appellant, Senior Advocate Vikram Nankani appeared for the Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) and Advocate Aditya Mehta appeared for Air India Ltd (AIL).

The Appeal was filed against the order challenging the City Civil Court, regarding the Notice of Motion. This suit concerned the denial of ad-interim relief regarding the demolition of buildings within the Kalina colony in Mumbai. The appellants, claiming to represent housing societies for employees of Air India Limited, Air India Engineering Service Limited and AI Airport Service Limited, contended that the Government of India's disinvestment in Air India Limited prompted eviction notices for employees in Air India colonies. Despite legal battles and interim relief, the appellants alleged illegal demolition activities and sought injunctions to prevent further destruction and eviction. Additionally, they filed a Notice of Motion under Order XXXIX Rules 1 and 2 of the CPC, which was denied by the impugned order.

The Court noted that the Division Benches' orders directed Air India employees to vacate their allotted accommodations or face eviction actions. The Supreme Court extended protection against penal rent and damages, but the colony flats were provided on a leave and license basis, conferring no leasehold rights.

The record reveals that the colony flats are given on a leave and license basis to the employees who were in active service of Air India. Admittedly, these individual employees were the licensees of Air India, and the allotment of the flat would not confer upon them any right or interest by way of lease or otherwise in the immovable property. The right of the allottees in respect of the residence is a personal one”, the Bench noted.

The Bench observed that per the Housing Allotment Rules, accommodation is not a guaranteed right but a welfare function governed by specific rules. MIAL plans to demolish unoccupied buildings, assuring the court of minimal impact on current occupants, following due process, and prioritizing safety. Essential services will be maintained, and no inhabited buildings, including schools, will be demolished without due process.

Accordingly, the Court dismissed the Appeal.

Cause Title: Air India Staff Colony Association v Mumbai International Airport Limited (2024:BHC-AS:5553)

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