Ahead Of Polls, Shocker For AAP: Vacate Headquarters, Says Supreme Court

Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud said no one can take the law into their own hands. "How can any political party sit on it? All encroachments will be removed," he said.

New Delhi:

Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party will have to vacate their headquarters which stand on a plot of land meant for the High Court. The saving grace -- it has time till June 15 to do so. Underscoring that it is a case of encroachment, the Supreme Court gave the party a long deadline in view of the coming Lok Sabha elections.

The party has been allowed to apply to the Centre's Land and Development Office for alternate land.

"We would request the L&DO to process the application and communicate its decision within a period of four weeks," said the bench of Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra. AAP, the bench added, has no lawful right to continue on the land.

In February, the court had observed that AAP was encroaching on the land, which was allotted to the Delhi High Court for an expansion project -- the building of additional court rooms for the Rouse Avenue court. The top court took note of the matter while dealing with a case related to judicial infrastructure across the country.

Following a court order, a meeting was held on February 15, during which the state government had assured that the plot would be vacated in two months, provided an alternative plot was given. But the matter did not move forward.

Today, angry judges questioned the lapse.

Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud said no one can take the law into their own hands. "How can any political party sit on it? All encroachments will be removed... The High Court should be given possession of the land, which can be used for the public and citizens," said Justice Chandrachud.

"We direct that the Chief Secretary, PWD Secretary and Finance Secretary of Delhi Government should convene a meeting with the Registrar General of the High Court before the next date to ensure resolution of all issues," he added.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta questioned why AAP has to be given alternate land. "If they want to evacuate then let them evacuate. What is this condition?" he said.

The allocation, he added, was made to the government and it gave it to the party. "But they have to evacuate… How can they hold the Supreme Court and the High Court at ransom?" he added.

When senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for AAP, said as one of the six national parties, AAP is entitled to a plot of land, the Chief Justice, in a lighter vein, said, "You should not appear in this case, you cannot oppose the ground for Delhi High Court… You are using our good offices to get the plot… How can we allow this?"

AAP said it respects the Supreme Court order asking it to vacate its offices in Delhi's Rouse Avenue. "We hope that the BJP will not do any regressive, discriminatory or dirty politics and, without further delay, allot a land for the AAP's office premises at the same location where all the other national parties have been allotted land for office use in Delhi," AAP spokesperson Priyanka Kakkar was quoted as saying by news agency Press Trust of India.

In an earlier hearing, the top court had criticised the Delhi government for its "indifferent attitude" towards providing funds for infrastructure in the Delhi district judiciary. At the time, the Chief Justice of India had said approval had been granted for three of the four projects by March 2021. Funds, however, were yet to be released for these projects.