HC sets aside LG order cancelling AAP office
NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Wednesday set aside an order of the Lieutenant Governor cancelling the allotment of a bungalow to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the heart of Delhi, saying no reason was given for the action.
Justice Vibhu Bakhru remanded the matter back to LG Anil Baijal to pass a reasoned order within eight weeks after hearing the political party.
The court said the April 12 order cancelling the allotment did not say which law or rule has been violated.
It told the central government that if there is a policy for allotting accommodation to political parties, it has to be applied uniformly.
The court also kept in abeyance two consequential orders passed by the Public Works Department of the Delhi government on June 13 rejecting the party's request for alternative accommodation and directing it to pay dues of over Rs 27 lakh towards the market rent of the property up till May 31.
According to AAP, represented by senior advocate Arun Kathpalia, the party was allotted bungalow number 206 at the Rouse Avenue here on December 31, 2015.
The AAP welcomed the order saying that it has exposed the conspiracy of the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress.
Raghav Chadha, the party's national spokesperson said: "(The order) has exposed both the BJP and the Congress, which have been occupying several premises across Delhi, many of these illegally," said.
Chadha challenged both the parties to make public the number of properties and plots of land under their possession across Delhi.
"AAP has never sought any favour for properties or land and shall continue to maintain transparency in its functioning," he added.
The party asserted that the allotment of party office to AAP by the Delhi government was not an act of charity, but the fulfilment of a rightful claim of a state-recognised party, which should have been allotted an office as per rules after 2013 Delhi Assembly elections.
It claimed that the cancellation of the party office allotment by the LG was part of a joint conspiracy hatched by the BJP and the Congress, in collusion with some retired bureaucrats, whose common sinister goal is to disrupt the AAP functioning.
The Delhi government also welcomed the step. A senior official of the government said that this order has also proved "the credibility of the government because the land was provided by us."
The official opined that the government and LG's office should maintain their respective constitutional duties and should not get influenced by politics.
In April this year, LG Anil Baijal had ordered cancellation of the allotment of a bungalow to AAP for its office, after receiving a response from the PWD on the issue.
This followed submission of the Shunglu Committee report on the government's decisions which had bypassed former LG Najeeb Jung's approval.
Reacting to the order, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia tweeted, "It is not a joke. We are fighting a battle to save the nation from corrupt people and their agents. So this is bound to happen."
During the arguments, Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain and the central government standing counsel said an accommodation was offered to the party in Saket in South Delhi, but AAP had refused to accept it.