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AAP denies encroaching on judiciary’s land in Delhi, claims in Supreme Court that office allotted to it in 2015 later included in court expansion plan

AAP said in Supreme Court that the AAP office next to Rouse Avenue court on Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Marg was allotted to by the Delhi govt in 2015, but later the Land and Development Office (L&DO) of the Government of India designated the site for the expansion of the Rouse Avenue Court complex in 2023

On 15th February, the Aam Admi Party (AAP) claimed that there was no encroachment at the Rouse Avenue court where the party’s office is located. The party claimed in the Supreme Court that it had not intruded on any land designated for the Delhi judiciary, and the plot was legally allotted to it. The AAP submitted an affidavit in the Supreme Court claiming that the stated plot was allotted to it by the Delhi Government in 2015. The affidavit was filed in response to the court’s order to vacate the encroachment by a “political party” in land intended for the Delhi judiciary.

According to the party, the Land and Development Office (L&DO) of the Government of India designated the site for the expansion of the Rouse Avenue Court complex in 2023, while the same land was allotted to it earlier. However, the attorneys for the AAP declared that the party is prepared to leave its present location if the court guarantees the selection of a different location for the construction of a new party office that complies with its national party status.

The party requested intervention in the case in its application and stated that it should be heard before the court issues any directives. The petition explained that the purpose of the allocation of office space for official party operations is to level the electoral playing field and is a crucial part of public funding for elections in India.

AAP has argued that as a Political Party of National Importance, it is provided with the aforementioned property, which is Bungalow No. 206, Rouse Avenue, Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Marg, New Delhi, following the Land & Development Office (L&DO) of the Government of India’s Policy Guidelines for Allotment of Land to Political Parties, dated 9.11.2012. AAP has the right to two office locations, one for its National Unit and another for its Delhi State Unit under the aforesaid standards but it has currently only been given an office area (the subject premises) for its Delhi State Unit.

The Subject Premises were formally assigned to the Applicant by the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) on 31st December 2015 for its State Unit Office, as per the Application of Intervention submitted by AAP. This was completely in line with the party’s entitlement as a State Party at the time, it claimed. Furthermore, AAP said that a notice of cancellation of the allotment was overruled by an order issued by the Delhi High Court on 23rd August 2017.

It alleged, “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.”

AAP said that as per its knowledge, on 18th September 2020, the L&DO granted 3.03 acres of land to GNCTD to construct more courtrooms for Rouse Avenue Court which is scheduled to be located next to the Rouse Avenue Court. On 12th December 2023, L&DO stated that in addition to the unoccupied property next to the Rouse Avenue Court complex, a bituminous road and the Aam Aadmi Party office that are located at the site also need to be allotted for expansion of the court. AAP claimed that the L&DO made took decision without considering the presence of its office.

The application read, “There is no explanation forthcoming for why due diligence was not exercised by the L&DO by examining the pre-existing status of the land and its vacancy.” The party maintained that despite its requests in 2017, no action was taken in response to its proposals for another location.

Although the party is willing to leave the property, it has asked the Court to make sure it is given another space because the immediate vacation would leave the AAP without any office in Delhi. This is especially important because of the upcoming General Elections and the fact that the other five national parties operate out of their designated offices in Delhi, the party claimed.

AAP noted, “Therefore, while the Applicant remains ready and willing to vacate the Subject Premises, it is submitted that this Hon’ble Court direct that such vacation be required only after at least one of the two office spaces that the Applicant is entitled to are allotted to it in the New Delhi Municipal area of a nature appropriate to the Applicant’s status as a National Party. Such a direction need not cause any further delays in the construction of courtrooms in Rouse Avenue, since the Subject Premises are not located in the portion of the land where construction is planned as per the design approved by the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi.”

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) came under fire from the Supreme Court on 13th February after it was notified that the party had “encroached” on territory designated for the Delhi High Court. The court expressed displeasure that the AAP political office, located at Rouse Avenue in Delhi, was built over encroached land. The Court then mandated that all intrusions be cleared from the property.

Notably, the Court became aware of the problem when it was handling a case involving the nation’s court system. The matter was being heard by a three-judge panel that included Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud, Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra.

The current AAP office is a government bungalow, earlier allotted to union ministers. The house at 206, Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Marg, with a huge garden was allotted to AAP in 2015, after which the party moved its office from Patel Nagar. After gaining national party status, AAP is trying to find land to construct its national headquarters but has not been successful so far. It wanted a plot on Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Marg, where the new headquarters of BJP and Congress are located, apart from the current AAP office, but the authorities told them that there is no vacant land parcel available. As per central govt rules, national parties are eligible for allotment of land at concessional rates.

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