'Ready to vacate Delhi office meant for High Court, but only after allotment of alternate space', AAP tells SC

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AAP while denying a charge of encroachment has contended immediate vacation will mean that it will be left with none of the two office spaces, it is entitled to under the applicable guidelines and this will severely prejudice it as well as the fairness of the electoral process, given the impending General Elections

Aam Aadmi Party has informed the Supreme Court that it remains ready and willing to vacate the office premises in Delhi, but such vacation should be required only after at least one of the two office spaces that it is entitled to, is allotted to it in the New Delhi Municipal Area, appropriate to its status a national party.

In an intervention application, the ruling party in Delhi claimed its lawful occupation of the premises in Bungalow No 206, Rouse Avenue, New Delhi was labelled as ‘encroachment’ before the Apex court on February 13.

"Far from being an instance of ‘encroachment’, the Subject Premises were officially allotted to the applicant by the Government of NCT of Delhi on 31.12.2015 for its State Unit Office. This was strictly in accordance with the entitlement as (at that time) a state party under the," it said.

The Delhi High Court had on August 23, 2017 set aside a notice for cancellation of allotment.

"Since this allotment, the applicant 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," top court has been further told.

The party also maintained there is no question of it ‘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.

It has been further submitted that AAP's requests for an alternative space for its State Unit Office have been denied.

"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," it said.

AAP faced strong rebuke from the Supreme Court on February 13 after it was contended the party was occupying the space meant for the Delhi High Court.

Amicus curiae K Parameshwar had said that Delhi High Court officials went to take possession of a land allotted to the high court and they were not allowed as a political party’s office has been constructed there now.

The court had then expressed its displeasure saying the political party is sitting tight on the encroachment and it has to come to an end.

Supreme Court has further directed that the Chief Secretary of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi, the Secretary In-charge of the Public Works Department and the Finance Secretary should convene a meeting before, February 19, the next date of hearing, together with the Registrar General of the High Court so that all outstanding issues are settled without waiting for further directions.

Cause Title: Malik Mazhar Sultan & Anr vs. UP Public Service Commission Through its Secretary & Ors