Soon, a museum will replace popular shops and eateries at the heritage circular building of Gole Market.
On Thursday, the Supreme Court gave the green signal to the New Delhi Municipal Council’s (NDMC) six-year-old ambitious plan of developing the museum. The court dismissed the shopkeepers’ appeal against the Delhi High Court verdict, directing them to vacate the premises by June 30.
A vacation bench headed by Justice AK Patnaik refused to interfere with the HC order after NDMC counsel additional solicitor general Rakesh Khanna said the 16 shopkeepers, who had petitioned before the SC, had undertaken to vacate the premises. He further told the bench that 14 shopkeepers had already vacated the shops.
Constructed in 1920s, the market was part of Sir Edwin Lutyens’ design of New Delhi. It had become a prominent art and cultural centre as several renowned artists worked from here. NDMC’s plan to convert the building into a museum was facing stiff opposition from the shopkeepers, who moved the high court in 2007.
A division bench of the high court, headed by Justice Manmohan Singh, had on June 20 dismissed the traders’ petition after NDMC filed an affidavit assuring the court the building would be converted into a museum. The traders had contended that the NDMC had not taken any decision on the issue. They had sought protection from eviction until the NDMC takes a final decision.
In its order, the court had made it clear that it was ‘open to the appellants to initiate any action which is permissible under law in case it is found that the respondent (NDMC) intends anytime to develop Gole Market as commercial property’.
In March 2012, a single bench of the high court had disposed the traders’ petition, observing: “In case the heritage Gole Market building was to be retained as a market, then the shopkeepers of Gole Market be given preference, and in case, it was to be converted into a museum, then they were to be offered alternative shops or offices.”
The traders, however, approached the court once again after the NDMC initiated an eviction drive against them in February this year and claimed there was no final plan to convert the heritage building into a museum.