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AAP informs SC, party office didn't encroach judicial land

In an affidavit filed before the Supreme Court, AAP has countered the allegations of alleged encroachment of judicial land.

AAP informs SC, party office didnt encroach judicial land

Supreme Court of India (ANI)

NEW DELHI: The Aam Aadmi Party has informed the Supreme Court that it has not encroached on any land of the court, and the premises were officially allotted to the AAP by the Delhi Government for its State Unit Office in 2015. In an affidavit filed before the Supreme Court, AAP has countered the allegations of alleged encroachment of judicial land.

"Far from being an instance of 'encroachment', the subject premises were officially allotted to the applicant (AAP) by the government of the NCT of Delhi on December 31, 2015, for its State Unit Office," AAP said in an intervening application that was filed before the top court in matter relating to judicial infrastructure. The Supreme Court expressed its shock on Tuesday when it learned that a political party political office is located on a plot that was allotted to the Delhi High Court.

In the affidavit, the party claimed that the land was allotted by the Office Memorandum dated October 14, 2015, which was challenged before the Delhi High Court, and the HC ruled in favour of the party. "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," the affidavit said.

Explaining the necessity of the land for party office, AAP also said that such 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. 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 5 other national parties, each of which is enjoying, at least, similar allotments in similar locations, AAP further added.

Justifying the allotment of land as legal, the party also said, "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 Land and Development Office (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 12.12.2023 that, not just the vacant land that is adjacent to the Rouse Avenue Court complex, but a bituminous road and the office of the Aam Aadmi Party that exist on the said land are also to be allotted for the construction, the affidavit said. The party further added that there is no explanation forthcoming why due diligence was not exercised by the L&DO by examining the pre-existing status of the land and its vacancy.

Be that as it may, the AAP 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. "However, inexplicably, the applicant's requests dated May 20, 2017 and June 5, 2017 for such an alternative space for its State Unit Office have been denied via communication dated June 13, 2017. 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," the affidavit said.

"This will severely prejudice the applicants 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.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 High Court of Delhi." "Therefore, in view of the circumstances outlined above and the need for appropriate directions that may balance the Applicant's legal entitlement as well as the need for judicial infrastructure, the applicant seeks the leave of the apex court to intervene in the captioned appeal," the affidavit said.

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