The Delhi High Court Friday dismissed a plea by Associated Journals Ltd (AJL), publisher of National Herald, which had challenged the Centre’s order ending its 56-year-old lease asking it to vacate the premises at ITO, New Delhi.
Justice Sunil Gaur directed the AJL to vacate the premises in two weeks time, failing which the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorized Occupants) proceedings will be initiated against the Herald House.
The Delhi High Court dismisses plea of Associated Journals Ltd, publisher of National Herald, which has challenged Centre’s order ending its 56-year-old lease asking it to vacate the premises at ITO @IndianExpress
— Pritam Pal Singh (@Singh2Pritam) December 21, 2018
It also rejected the AJL counsel’s request to stay the operation of the order for sometime. The court passed the order on AJL’s plea against the government’s notice issued on October 30.
The weekly newspaper ‘National Herald on Sunday’ resumed on September 24 last year and the place of publication was the ITO premises, AJL had said, adding that the Hindi weekly newspaper Sunday Navjivan was also being published since October this year from the same premises.
The order by Urban Development Ministry asking the publishers to vacate the premises at ITO by November 15, put an end to AJL’s 56-year-old lease. The publishers approached the court on November 12, challenging the October 30 order.
The court, on November 15, had asked the government to maintain a status quo with regard to enforcement of the October 30 order and reserved its decision on the plea to November 22.
The Centre had issued a notice to AJL on the grounds that “no press has been functioning in the said premise for the last 10 years”. It also alleged “misuse” of the premises; and transfer of shares of AJL to Young India without permission of the lessor which is in ‘violation of a clause in a lease deed’.
Advocate Abhishek Singhvi who argued the case for National Herald had said that the newspaper continues to publish from the premise after a brief interruption due to “financial difficulties”. On “violation” of clause i.e allegation of transfer of the premises to Young Indian, when it became a shareholder of AJL by taking over its debt, Singhvi said the change in shareholding does not lead to transfer of property. Regarding “misuse” of the premises, Singhvi argued that eviction proceedings against an 84-feet photocopy shop is ongoing in civil court since a decade.