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The Delhi High Court today said that authorities shall keep the historic Delhi Public Library (DPL) in central Delhi locked and no one be permitted to enter the premises. A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar also extended till March 20 next year its order restraining civic agency NDMC from demolishing the building. "The parties shall ensure that order date November 15, 2016 shall strictly be complied with and nobody shall be allowed to use the premises," the court said. It directed the authorities to lock the library, while ensuring that nobody's life is "put is danger". On November 15, 2016 the court had stopped the North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) from taking any further step, saying the library branch at Karol Bagh "shall be kept closed and nobody shall be permitted to enter the premises till further orders". The court was hearing a petition filed by some scholars and journalists, who have moved against the corporation's two notices to the DPL to vacate the premises, claiming that the building was structurally unfit and dangerous. The library was issued the first notice on September 15, 2016 and the next one on November 4, asking the library to vacate so that the building could be demolished. Seeking quashing of the notices, the petitioners have alleged that the owner of the premises, Dimple Enterprises, "wants a commercial complex to come up in place of this library in order to make money from this land". "The NDMC has been manipulated by using corrupt practices to declare the premises as dangerous now, while in 2011, the same MCD had certified the building as safe provided minor maintenance (was carried out).
Still the library building is being demolished due to pressure and corrupt tactics by the owners," the plea has alleged. Stating that there was "no likelihood of immediate danger to passers-by or others while entering the premises," the petitioners have sought appointment of a court commissioner "to inspect, evaluate and analyse the current status and condition of the library". They have also sought a direction to "initiate enquiry against the officials concerned of the NDMC and the chairman/ defaulting officials concerned of the Delhi Library Board or DPL". Funded by the Ministry of Culture, the board is an autonomous body which has around 45 branches and mobile libraries across Delhi. It consists of officers from both the central and Delhi governments, intellectuals, members of the Legislative Assembly and councillors. The first Delhi Public Library was started by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru across the old Delhi railway station in 1951.
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