AAP slapped with about Rs 28 lakh ‘penal rent’ for ‘unauthorised occupation’ of office
The four-room bungalow with a huge garden in central Delhi was allotted to AAP in January 2016 to run its office. The allotment was cancelled in April after direction from Delhi L-G.delhi Updated: Jun 15, 2017 22:48 IST
NEW DELHI: The Public Works Department (PWD) of the Delhi government has slapped ‘penal rent’ of about R 28 lakh on the Aam Aadmi Party for ‘unauthorised occupation’ of the party office, invoking a sharp response from the party that termed the entire exercise as ‘conspiracy’ against the ruling party.
AAP national secretary, who received the PWD notice, said the party was contemplating all possible options.
Officials said levying of the ‘penal rent at the market rate’ is in continuation of the order by the department in April, cancelling allotment of the 206, Rouse Avenue on DDU Marg to the ruling party to set up its office last year.
“The party is liable to pay the penal rent/market rent for the period of unauthorised occupation. The due calculated upto 31.05.2017 amounts to Rs 27,73,802. The dues will further accrue upto the date the premise is finally vacated,” PWD’s notice to AAP’s national secretary Pankaj Gupta read.
Officials said the Gupta, on behalf of the party, had earlier sough extension of the party’s occupation of the property on DDU marg near ITO.
The department, however, turned down the request saying ‘illegal occupation’ cannot be extended and directed the party ‘to vacate the premises forthwith and pay the dues urgently’. Gupta termed the notice a part of ‘conspiracy against the party’.
“We had sought details from the department about the policy under which the BJP and Congress have multiple offices in the city. None have been provided. Also the penal rent upto May 31 has been sent but the notice doesn’t specify about the date from which it has been calculated. It is from the day the office started operating or the day the cancellation order was issued,” Gupta told HT.
“If the union urban development ministry’s amended policy guidelines for allotment of land to political parties go, AAP is entitled for two plots for office in Delhi. One under the criteria of number of Members of Parliament while the second as a state-level party. While the UD ministry has not allotted even one of the two, the L-G has ordered cancellation of the existing one,” he added.
The single-storey four-bedroom house with a huge garden, from where the AAP has been operating since January 25, 2016, is located opposite the Delhi Congress office. The PWD had allocated the property after the Arvind Kejriwal cabinet cleared a policy to allocate land to all parties which have a certain number of legislators but do not have a designated office.
The allotment was cancelled in April this year on direction from the lieutenant governor after the PWD concurred that the “allotment was done in violation of the rules”. The allotment was reviewed in the light of the three-member Shunglu committee report that red-flagged the decision because the lieutenant governor’s approval was not taken despite land being a reserved subject under the Centre’s purview.
The AAP leaders had applied with the Union UD ministry for allotment of a plot for party office on December 10, 2013. After as series of correspondences, the ministry had offered to allot land in Saket area of south Delhi.
Reasoning that all parties have designated offices in central Delhi, the AAP too requested allotment on similar lines on June 24, 2014. “Our application is still pending with the ministry ever since,” Gupta said.