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Delhi High Court rejects AAP plea to use minister's house as 'temporary' party office

Considering that the AAP needs to vacate its current office in Rouse Avenue by June 15, the party's counsel had argued that a unit on Deen Dayal Upadhyay (DDU) Marg, at present with one of its Delhi ministers, ought to be temporarily allotted to it.
shish Tripathi
Last Updated : 05 June 2024, 11:12 IST
Last Updated : 05 June 2024, 11:12 IST

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New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Wednesday rejected a plea by Aam Aadmi Party asking the court to order the Union government to allow AAP party members to use a housing unit, presently occupied by one of its Delhi ministers, as the party's 'temporary' office.

Justice Subramonium Prasad, however, did direct the Union government to consider the request of the party for a office space within six weeks, saying that 'pressure' or non-availability of a house in the general pool cannot be a reason for rejection of the request. He added that the fact that the petitioner is a national political party cannot be overlooked.

The court asked the Centre to take a decision and submit a 'detailed order' explaining why even one housing unit from the general pool cannot be allotted to AAP since, as a national party, it is entitled to an office space here like any other political party.

"Let a detailed order deciding the request of the petitioner be provided to it so that it can take other remedial steps," the bench said.

The Supreme Court had earlier on March 4, 2024 asked the party to vacate bungalow number 206 at Rouse Avenue here, which was to be utilised for the district judiciary.

Taking up a writ petition by the AAP, the bench said this court is not prepared to accept the plea to direct the Land and Development Office to permit it to establish its office at "Plots No 23 & 24, DDU Marg" in New Delhi, a portion of which is currently in possession of a Delhi minister. 

However, the bench relied upon the 'Consolidated Instructions for allotment of Government Accommodation from General Pool to National and State level Political Parties' to point out that national political parties have a right to retain or secure allotment of one housing unit from general pool in Delhi for their office use on payment of a license fee.

The said accommodation is allotted for a period of three years during which party can choose to acquire a plot of land in an institutional area and construct its own accommodation for a party office. 

The Centre said the petitioner was offered land in 2014 for the construction of its office. Later, "Bungalow No 206, Rouse Avenue" was allotted to the petitioner on December 31, 2015 to be used as its temporary party office and the petitioner could have constructed its office in the meantime. 

"[However], this argument [to refuse temporary office space] cannot be accepted. The fact that the petitioner has not accepted the allotment of plots at Saket for the construction of their permanent office as a state party in 2014, or the fact that the petitioner has not responded to the offer of the land to the petitioner for construction of its party office as a national party in 2024, is of no consequence and cannot be taken an argument to deny the petitioner a temporary accommodation to be used as a party office for a period of three years as the claim of the petitioner is on the basis of the fact that it is a national party," the court said.

Justice Prasad, however, also said the party cannot claim entitlement to the DDU Marg property as it was given to the Delhi government and not the party, and as per record, the possession has to be handed over to the L&DO (Land and Development Office).

The Arvind Kejriwal-led party has said in court that 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 to it in accordance with its entitlement as per the Centre's policy.

The Central government lawyer had opposed the petition and said AAP was offered land in Saket area in 2014 for its offices but the same was not accepted and, currently, allotting a housing unit from the pool was not feasible due to acute shortage and the property at DDU Marg also cannot be given to it.

In March, the Supreme Court had 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.

(With PTI inputs)

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Published 05 June 2024, 11:12 IST

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