United India Periodicals Private Limited (UIPPL), publisher of Patriot newspaper and Link magazine, has moved the Delhi High Court seeking quashing of a Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs order, which sought to cancel their land lease and ordered them to vacate the premises of Link House, also known as Patriot House.
The notice, for premises located at plot number 3, Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg, was issued by the ministry on January 21. The issue came up for hearing before Justice Yogesh Khanna, who sought an assurance from the government that it would restrain authorities from taking action.
Additional Solicitor General Maninder Acharya and central government standing counsel Ripu Daman Bhardwaj orally assured the court that they will not disturb the position till the next date of hearing, February 12. Senior advocate Rajiv Nayar, appearing for UIPPL, contended that the notice is “illegal, arbitrary and reflects non-application of mind”. He argued that the notice “incorrectly invokes provisions of the Public Premises Act”.
The Land and Development Department of the ministry had issued the notice for cancellation of land lease, and had asked them to vacate the premises by February 5, after the occupant was allegedly found violating land lease conditions. As per the ministry, if the premises were not used for printing press, it amounts to misuse of the allotted land, and the department has the right to take it back.
As per the plea, the printing and distribution of the newspaper and magazine was stopped in June 1996 due to a lockout in the company on account of recurring losses. It said that UIPPL was allotted a 0.50-acre plot for construction of a building for bona fide purpose of press in June 1959. UIPPL publishes the newspaper Patriot, which was launched in 1959 under the leadership of freedom fighter Aruna Asaf Ali.
“In 1961, the allottee was allowed to use 2/3rd of total built up area for general office use, commercial or otherwise. This was subject to condition that 1/3rd of the total built up area will be used for press. Subsequently, the Perpetual Lease in respect of the above allotment was signed on 04.08.1962,” the plea said, adding that in accordance with the terms of allotment, UIPPL constructed a building of five stories on its own.
In January 2016, the company relaunched the newspaper as a weekly. “The company claimed that the allegations of misuse and unauthorised construction stood addressed and removed by the company pursuant to various showcause notices,” the UIPPL said in its plea.