The Centre told the Delhi High Court today that the land where Teen Murti Estate, which includes Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund (JNMF), is situated, has belonged to the government since the establishment of the national capital.
The Centre's response came on a petition filed by JNMF seeking to set aside the estate officer's October 15 eviction notice.
The Fund has been located at Teen Murti, once the residence of India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, since 1967. JNMF was set up in 1964.
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.
Justice Anu Malhotra listed the matter for further hearing on December 4.
The court, which had on November 1 stayed the proceedings before the Directorate of Estates, said status quo be maintained till the next date of hearing.
Additional solicitor general Maninder Acharya and central government standing counsel Monika Arora told the court that they have filed a preliminary affidavit along with necessary documents.
The JNMF has denied the claims that it was in illegal possession of the property.
The affidavit, filed by the deputy director of estates at Directorate of Estates, 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 said.
It also said these facts clearly reflect that "your (JNMF) occupation of demised premises is without any authority of law and no statutory or contractual relationship exist between either the Central government and you..."
The affidavit claimed that in the absence of any material pleading placed by the Fund to show that it is either JNMF who is the owner or someone else other than the Central government is the owner of the land, JNMF be not permitted to argue that the government is not the owner of the property.
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.
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 JNMF has said it is a charitable trust and it is clear that the Directorate of Estates has no jurisdiction to initiate any proceedings in relation to the property of Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML) which is a registered society and the JNMF is in legal occupation of the premises.
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