HC reserves order on AAP’s plea for allotment of space for party offices


PTI, May 27, 2024, 3:28 PM IST

The Delhi High Court on Friday reserved its order on a plea by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) seeking the allocation of space for its offices by the Centre on account of being recognised as a national party.

Considering that the current party office in Rouse Avenue has to be vacated by June 15, AAP’s senior counsel argued that a unit on Deen Dayal Upadhyay (DDU) Marg ought to be temporarily allotted to it.

The court said it is likely to pass an order on the issue of temporary allotment of the space on June 5.

”I will try to pronounce it during the vacations. Most probably on the 5th (of June),” said Justice Subramonium Prasad.

The AAP had moved the court last year by filing two separate petitions seeking a piece of land in the national capital for the construction of its offices in view of its status as a recognised national party or allotment of a housing unit on a licence basis for the time being.

While reserving a verdict on the allotment of temporary accommodation, the court listed the petition with respect to the allotment of land to the AAP for a hearing on July 10.

Senior advocate Rahul Mehra said a national party is entitled to a temporary office until land is given to it for the construction of a permanent party office and in the instant case, one of the ministers in the AAP government was willing to forgo his occupation of a unit on Deen Dayal Upadhyay (DDU) Marg in favour of the party.

Asserting that a fair and level playing field has to be established, the senior counsel said no prejudice would be caused to the Centre if this plot on DDU land is given to the AAP in view of the present circumstances.

”I am not saying I have a permanent entitlement to it. I am only asking for two to three months, till the time they allot me proper land. My minister will stay without government accommodation,” Mehra said.

The central government lawyer said the allotment has to come from the general pool and there is no exclusive list for political parties.

He said the AAP was offered land in 2014 for the purposes of its offices but the same was not accepted and currently, allotting a housing unit from the pool was not feasible.

As far as the DDU Marg unit was concerned, he emphasised that it has to be returned to the government.

The senior lawyers appearing for the petitioner have earlier said an alternative housing must be allotted to the AAP as its current office has to be vacated by June 15 and the construction of a new building on any allotted land cannot be completed in the meantime.

In March, the Supreme Court granted the AAP time till June 15 to vacate its Rouse Avenue office after noting that the land was allotted to the Delhi High Court for expanding judicial infrastructure.

In its petition, the Arvind Kejriwal-led party has said since land has been allotted by the authorities for the construction of office premises to all other national parties in central locations in New Delhi, it is incumbent upon them to ensure that a similar allotment is also made in favour of the petitioner in accordance with its entitlement as per the Centre’s policy.

The plea has sought quashing of last year’s June 26 and September 15 letters of the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs by which the AAP’s request to allot land to the party for the construction of its national and state unit offices here was rejected.

The request was rejected on the ground that no vacant land was available at DDU Marg or other centrally-located areas of Delhi for allotment.

”Such refusal is all the more egregious as the petitioner is a party in opposition and hence, it is incumbent on the respondents to enable the full exercise of democratic freedoms by those in opposition, instead of misusing their power to curtail such rights.

”The refusal to allot land has placed the party at a great disadvantage in comparison to other national parties and thus, violates the very ethos of a democratic parliamentary system, preventing the party from functioning properly in the absence of proper office premises,” the petition says.

It has, therefore, sought a direction from the Union ministry to take necessary steps in accordance with the law to allot suitable land to it in New Delhi to enable the party to construct offices for its national and Delhi state units at the earliest.

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