National Herald: Supreme Court stays Delhi High Court judgment in appeal by AJL on eviction from Herald House

National Herald: Supreme Court stays Delhi High Court judgment in appeal by AJL on eviction from Herald House

Murali Krishnan

The Supreme Court today issued notice to Central government in the appeal filed by Associated Journals Limited (AJL) challenging its eviction from Herald House.

The Bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjeev Khanna also stayed the judgment of the Delhi High Court which had upheld the eviction of AJL from Herald House.

In February this year, a Division Bench of the Delhi High Court had upheld a Single Judge decision to evict AJL from the Herald House premises in Delhi. In effect, the High Court had affirmed an October 2018 decision of the Land and Estate Officer, Government of India directing AJL to vacate Herald House by November 15, 2018, after determining a perpetual lease agreement between the two.

The Centre had cancelled the lease on the ground that the said premises were being used only for commercial purposes in violation of Clause III (7) of the Lease Deed, and that no Press has been functioning in the said premises for last at least 10 years.

AJL had challenged this order passed by the Land and Development Officer, Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs before the High Court. The Single Judge, however, dismissed AJL’s plea against the eviction on concluding that “the dominant purpose” for which Herald House was leased out to AJL no longer existed. Affirming this decision, the Division Bench had held,

If … a decision is taken by the respondents to say that the dominant purpose for which the lease was granted has been violated and there has been misuse of the conditions of the lease, in the absence of mala fides or ulterior motive having been established, the writ court has rightly refused to interfere into the matter. We also see no reason  to make any indulgence into a reasonable order passed by the writ court in the facts and circumstances of the present case.

This prompted AJL to approach the Supreme Court on further appeal last month. Reiterating the stance adopted before the High Court, AJL has contended that,

“… the determination of the lease deed is ex facie malicious, arbitrary, based on extraneous grounds, and has been effected for political considerations contrary to the express provisions of the lease deed itself.

Apart from arguing that the mandatory terms of its Perpetual Lease Deed of 1967 was not followed in passing the eviction order, AJL has also argued that it is being singled out owing to the ruling regime’s opposing political ideologies. As stated in its appeal, “The eviction proceedings constitute a malicious step in the larger design of defaming and effacing the legacy of Pandit Nehru.”

Read the order below. 

Bar and Bench - Indian Legal news