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JNMF eviction notice: Centre moves HC to prepone hearing


Press Trust of India New Delhi
The Centre on Tuesday approached the Delhi High Court for an early hearing of a plea filed by Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund (JNMF) which had sought setting aside of the estate officer's eviction notice.
The government contended that the JNMF's petition, which has been listed for hearing on February 19, is premature and only to stall proceedings against it. The petition should either be preponed or authorities should be allowed to proceed under law against the JNMF, it said.
The Centre said JNMF was enjoying the possession of the property, located at Teen Murti here "in the garb" of November 1, 2018 interim order by which the court had stayed the proceedings before the Directorate of Estates.
The Centre's application, which was listed for hearing on Tuesday before Justice Yogesh Khanna, could not be heard and has been posted for January 31.
The JNMF, set up in 1964, has been located at Teen Murti, once the residence of India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, since 1967. Its offices are not part of the main building but occupy a set of barracks on its eastern side with a separate entry from Teen Murti Marg.
"The present respondent seeks indulgence to this court as the petitioner is enjoying the property in question in the garb of the interim order obtained from this court on November 1, 2018, wherein the petitioner has approached this court without participating in the proceeding before the estate officer," the Directorate of Estate, in its application, said.
It claimed that JNMF's petition was premature as the proceedings before the estate officer had just begun and the plea was "nothing but an attempt to stall the proceedings of the estate officer".
The application said that JNMF has chosen not to file its reply to the show cause notice of October 10, 2018.
The Centre urged the court to allow its application and prepone the date of hearing from February 19 or, in an alternative, allow it to carry on proceedings in accordance with the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act.
The Centre had earlier told the high court that the land where Teen Murti Estate, which includes JNMF, is situated belonged to the government since the establishment of the national capital.
The court had earlier directed that status quo be maintained till the next date of hearing.
The JNMF has denied the claims that it was in illegal possession of the property.
An affidavit filed by the deputy director of estates at Directorate of Estates had claimed that the JNMF has failed to produce any authority which allows/ permits it to use the demised premises.
"Without prejudice, the contention raised by the petitioner (JNMF) cannot be termed as a bonafide title dispute, as the central government is the sole owner of the demised premises and the Teen Murti Estate, in its entirety," it had said.
The petition, filed through advocates Sunil Fernandes and Priyansha Indra Sharma, has said the estate officer's notice was malafide and has been issued for ulterior political motives.
It has contended that the eviction notice issued under the provisions of the Public Premises Act (Eviction of Unauthorized Occupants) Act, 1971 was arbitrary and without jurisdiction and has been issued without application of mind.
The petition has said the proceedings initiated by the estate officer are part of a larger design to efface and destroy the legacy and contributions of Nehru and create a new historical narrative.
"The impugned show cause notice has been issued in pursuance of the ulterior political motives by the incumbent central government to destroy and efface the legacy and history of the contributions of Jawaharlal Nehru.
"The legacy of Nehru is a historical fact which is now sought to be effaced by the central government led by the BJP which is totally opposed to the secular and inclusive principles which Nehru stood for," the plea has alleged.

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First Published: Jan 29 2019 | 6:45 PM IST

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