High Court to hear AJL’s plea on Tuesday

Delhi High Court
Delhi High Court, File Photo

New Delhi, Nov 12 :The Delhi High Court will on Tuesday hear the plea of Associated Journals Limited (AJL), which publishes the National Herald newspaper, challenging the Centre’s order asking AJL to vacate the premises at ITO in the Delhi.

The AJL on Monday approached the Delhi High Court challenging the Urban Development Ministry’s order ending the lease of the Herald House and said that proceedings against AJL is a deliberate attempt to suppress and destroy the legacy of the first Prime Minister of the country Jawaharlal Nehru.

“…the impugned order is vitiated by malafides, bias and has been issued with oblique political motives. The proceedings have been initiated for the purposes of scuttling the voices of dissent and the voice of the largest opposition party in the country,” the plea read.

“It is a clear affront to the freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution and a deliberate attempt to suppress and destroy the legacy of the first Prime Minister of the country Jawaharlal Nehru, by the powers that be.”

The plea is scheduled to be heard by Justice Sunil Gaur.

The AJL has alleged that the government’s order dated October 30 was illegal, unconstitutional and arbitrary. In the order, the Urban Development Ministry has ended the 56-years old lease to AJL asking it to vacate the premises by November 15.

AJL alleged that the order is only a political witch hunt aimed at dismantling and destroying the voice of dissent and opposition parties.

The government reportedly inspected the premises a few months ago and found that the premises allotted to AJL were not being used for the publication of newspaper for the past 10 years. The government has said that it is a violation of the allotment rules.

The AJL said that government’s order deserved to be quashed as it was based on frivolous, malicious, political, arbitrary grounds, none of which was contemplated under the lease deed.

AJL had been publishing a newspaper for the last several decades and that although there was a brief temporary suspension period due to financial trouble, the formal newspaper and digital media operations had fully resumed, the plea said.

“There are many connotations of printing and publishing. The petitioner (AJL) is also publishing digital websites in multiple languages. This too is another mode of printing and publishing which has not at all been considered in the impugned order,” read the petition.

The weekly newspaper ‘National Herald on Sunday’ was resumed on September 24, 2017 and place of publication is the Herald House, Delhi. On October 14, the AJL resumed its weekly Hindi newspaper.

The plea also apprised the court that the committee members which came for inspection did not visit the rooms where the printing press was installed along with the stock of papers.

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