AAP assures Supreme Court it has not encroached on land allocated to Delhi HC


PTI, Feb 16, 2024, 1:28 PM IST

The AAP has told the Supreme Court that it has not ”encroached” the land of the Delhi High Court at Rouse Avenue here and that the space was allotted to it in 2015.

Moving the Supreme Court against a direction for immediate removal of its office space at Rouse Avenue, the party said it will severely prejudice the party as well as the fairness of the electoral process in view of upcoming Lok Sabha polls.

In an application filed in a pending matter related to judicial infrastructure, the AAP claimed there is no question of it ”encroaching” on a space that was duly allotted to it in 2015. Maintaining that the party remains ready and willing to vacate the subject premises, it requested the top court to direct that such vacation be required only after at least one of the two office spaces that the AAP is entitled to as a National Party are allotted to it in the New Delhi Municipal area.

”In view of these circumstances, immediate vacation will mean that the applicant will be left with none of the two office spaces it is entitled to under the applicable guidelines.

”This will severely prejudice the applicant as well as the fairness of the electoral process, given the impending general elections and the fact that the other five national parties are operating out of their allotted offices in New Delhi,” the application filed by advocate Prateek K Chadha said.

Giving the detail of allotment of the plot of land in question, the party said, ”Far from being an instance of ‘encroachment’, the subject premises were officially allotted to the applicant by the Government of NCT of Delhi (GNCTD) on December 31, 2015 for its State Unit Office.” ”This was strictly in accordance with the applicant’s entitlement as (at that time) a state party under the office memorandum dated October 14, 2015; in fact, a subsequent notice of cancellation of allotment was set aside by the High Court of Delhi vide its order dated August 23, 2017 in…Such allotment of office space for official party work is an essential element of public funding of elections in India and is designed to level the electoral playing field,” the application said.

It added that since this allotment in 2015, the applicant (AAP) has risen to become a national political party. ”This change in the applicant’s character and status has further enhanced its need for, as well as its entitlement to, office spaces in the New Delhi Municipal Area, at par with the five other national parties each of which are enjoying, at least, similar allotments in similar locations,” it said. The party further said the relevant policy guidelines for allotment of land to political parties dated November 9, 2012 issued by the Land & Development Office (L&DO), Government of India, entitles it to two office spaces — one for its national unit and another for its Delhi state unit. As of now, the applicant has been allotted office space (the subject premises) only for its Delhi state unit, the application said.

”In view of this, there is no question of the applicant ‘encroaching’ on a space that was duly allotted to it in 2015 and that has been in its possession since then. The subject premises had been in the applicant’s occupation long before it was earmarked for extending the Rouse Avenue Court Complex,” it said. The party further added that to its knowledge, the L&DO allotted 3.03 acres of land to GNCTD on September 18, 2020 for building additional court rooms for Rouse Avenue Court, which was stated to be adjacent to the Rouse Avenue Court. ”When the land was to be taken over, it was then stated by L&DO on December 12, 2023 that, not just the vacant land that is adjacent to the Rouse Avenue Court complex, but a bituminous road and the office of AAP exist on the said land are also to be allotted for the construction,” it said, adding there is no explanation for why due diligence was not exercised by the L&DO by examining the pre-existing status of the land and its vacancy. It said, ”Be that as it may, the applicant is cognizant of the necessity of judicial infrastructure for the welfare of Delhi’s citizens and has no cavils about relocating its State Unit Office to an appropriate, alternative space.” The party said its requests dated May 20, 2017 and June 5, 2017 for such an alternative space for its State Unit Office have been denied vide communication dated June 13, 2017. ”At the same time, pursuant to the applicant’s designation as a national party on April 10, 2023, the applicant has sent multiple requests to the Government of India for allotment of office space for its national unit. ”However, despite repeated letters dated April 17, 2023, April 20, 2023, August 22, 2023, and September 13, 2023, no space has been allotted despite the passage of almost a year,” it said.

On February 13, the top court had directed the Delhi government and the Registrar General of the Delhi High Court to hold a meeting for removal of “encroachment” by AAP.

A bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud had asked the Delhi chief secretary, secretary in Delhi Public Works Department and the finance secretary to the city government to convene a meeting on the issue and submit a specific time line to this Court ”for the removal of the encroachment”.

The direction came after advocate K Parameshwar, appointed as amicus curiae to assist the apex court in the matter, said a political party has set up its office on the land parcel.

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