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Govt officials of 13 flats in Delhi’s Sujan Singh Park issued eviction notice

Published on Mar 05, 2022 01:50 AM IST

Staff of Sir Sobha Singh and Sons Private Limited, the firm that manages the estates, asked residents of 13 central government-allotted flats to vacate their homes, citing a Delhi high court order issued in January 2020.

A view of Block A, in Sujan Singh Park, New Delhi. (Raj K Raj/HT Photo)
ByRisha Chitlangia, New Delhi

Senior government officials living in Sujan Singh Park, an upscale colonial-era housing complex near Khan Market in central Delhi, were in for a rude shock on Friday, as they were asked to immediately vacate the flats that have been allotted to them by the central government.

Panic gripped residents of the exclusive residential neighbourhood as court officials, accompanied by the staff of Sir Sobha Singh and Sons Private Limited, the firm that manages the estates, asked residents of 13 central government-allotted flats to vacate their homes, citing a Delhi high court order issued in January 2020.

Residents claimed that some of the flats and garages were sealed and notices put up outside the flats. “This property is now under the possession of Sir Sobha Singh and Sons Pvt Ltd in terms of eviction order upheld till Hon’able High Court, through bailiff in execution,” said the notice, which also mentions the contact details of the firm’s legal counsel.

Late Sir Sobha Singh was a prominent civil contractor and real estate developer in Delhi. The firm has worked on several projects in Lutyens’ Delhi during the British era.

Residents of these flats said they were not given any prior notice. A senior central government official said, on condition of anonymity, “My wife and children were at home when a few people came and asked them to immediately vacate the house. There were court officials and a a few others who asked her to vacate the home. They told her that they will lock the house. We were not given any notice or prior information about this.”

Sandhya Verma, a senior official with the defence ministry and a resident of one of the 13 affected flats, said she was in a meeting when she got a call from her carpenter, alerting her about the eviction. “I was allotted the house last year and I was to shift there next week as the renovation work is almost complete. But these people asked the carpenter to leave and locked my house. A notice has been put up on the main door and I can’t access the flat,” said Verma.

A senior ministry official, aware of the matter, said on condition of anonymity, “We got calls from panicked residents in the morning. We were not given any notice or prior information about the eviction drive. They have sealed a few flats.”

According to the firm, the action on Friday was taken by a court bailiff to execute the Delhi high court judgment of January 2020, which came on a nearly three-decade-old dispute between the central government and the company.

Kabir Singh, director, Sobha Singh and Sons Private Limited, said the high court ordered the central government on January 8, 2020, to pay all rent dues and vacate the 13 flats by December 31, 2020.

Singh said, “The action is being taken as per the court order, which couldn’t be implemented until now as we chose not to file for its execution due to the Covid pandemic. Earlier this year, we filed for the execution of the court order. The Patiala house courts recently gave the order for the execution, which was implemented by the bailiff on Friday. The court officials have given residents time till Monday to make arrangements and vacate the property. Our manager was there today to assist the court officials and no resident was threatened.”

The flats were allotted to government officials by the directorate of estates, under the ministry of housing and urban affairs (Mohua). When contacted, a senior ministry official said on condition of anonymity, “We are looking into the matter and will approach Delhi high court against the action taken at the housing complex.”

The issue

There are 84 flats in Sujan Singh Park (north and south), which were developed by Sir Sobha Singh’s family, on the land allotted to them before Independence. According to a senior Mohua official, the company was given two land parcels, measuring 7.5 acres each, near Khan Market and, in return, the government got a few flats in the developed complex on a concessional rent.

Of the 84 flats constructed there, 13 are leased by the central government. The problem started in 1989 when the central government stopped paying rent to the company, said Singh.

“The government used to pay 2,400 per month for the 13 flats, 41 staff quarters and 21 garages. But it stopped paying the rent after 1989, following which the company filed a case in the lower court in 1991 against the government,”said Singh.

He further said, “The lower courts and the Delhi high court ruled in our favour. We have followed all due legal process to get our property vacated. The Delhi high court ordered the central government to clear the dues and vacate the property by December 31, 2020. While the government paid the dues in September last year, it didn’t vacate the flats.”

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