In a breather to Associated Journals Ltd (AJL), publisher of the National Herald newspaper which was asked by the Centre to vacate its premises in New Delhi, the Delhi High Court said on Wednesday that status quo be maintained till November 22.
AJL approached the high court on November 12 challenging the October 30 order of the Urban Development Ministry, ending its 56-year-old lease and asking it to vacate the premises at the press enclave at ITO by November 15.
When the matter came up for hearing, the central government gave an oral assurance to the high court that it will maintain status quo till November 22 in the land lease matter.
The assurance was given before Justice Sunil Gaur by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta after the court said that if the government wanted the matter to be heard on another date “then maintain status quo till then”.
Mehta told the court that he will not be able to argue post lunch as he has to be in the Supreme Court for another matter and urged the high court to hear the matter on another date.
Senior advocate Abhishek M. Singhvi, appearing for AJL, told the court that status quo ought to mean no taking over of possession as well as no initiation of proceedings under the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorized Occupants) Act, 1971.
The Land and Development Office (L&DO), which comes under the Urban Development Ministry, had ended the lease—entered into with AJL on August 2, 1962, and made perpetual on January 10, 1967—asking the company to hand over the possession by November 15.
The weekly newspaper ‘National Herald on Sunday’ resumed on September 24 last year and the place of publication was the ITO premises, Singhvi said, adding that the Hindi weekly newspaper ‘Sunday Navjivan’ was also being published since October this year from the same premises.
“The necessary licences and authorisations for the purposes of publication were also placed on record, in particular, the necessary licenses have been obtained by the petitioner (AJL),” the petition has said.