HC stays PWD order asking AAP’s Jasmine Shah to vacate govt accommodation

The Delhi High Court Friday stayed an order of the Public Works Department (PWD) cancelling AAP leader Jasmine Shah’s government accommodation and asking him to vacate it at the earliest.

Shah had originally moved the HC last year in a pending plea challenging the November 17, 2022, order of the Director (Planning), Delhi government, issued on the L-G’s request to CM Arvind Kejriwal to remove Shah from the post of vice chairperson of Dialogue and Development Commission of Delhi (DDCD), and pending such a decision, to restrain him from using his office space besides withdrawing the staff and facilities assigned to him. In the interim, the Lieutenant Governor (L-G) restricted Shah from discharging his functions as VC of the commission.

The Director (Planning) issued a further order, calling for sealing of Shah’s office and withdrawing staff and privileges assigned to him pursuant to which the SDM, Civil, Lines issued a memo resulting in the sealing of the office premises, which has also been challenged in the plea.

Shah’s fresh application sought restrain on an April 25 order of the PWD by which he was asked to vacate his government accommodation at the earliest.

A single-judge bench of Justice Prathiba Singh observed, “The matter has been part heard before this court for the past two three hearings. Counsels for the petitioner have already concluded their submissions. Ld. ASG has partly made his submissions. The matter is now listed for hearing on May 24. Under such circumstances, directions to the petitioner to vacate his residential accommodation and to treat the petitioner as unauthorised occupant vide letter dated April 25 shall remain stayed.”

The PWD’s cancellation order stated that the retention period with respect to government accommodation is governed by The Ministers of the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi (Salaries and Allowances) Order, 1994 as per which the maximum period of retention is 15 days on a rent-free basis, adding Shah was entitled to live rent-free till December 3, 2022.

Appearing for the L-G, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Sanjay Jain said, “It is only an order declaring him an unauthorised occupant. If he disputes that position, he has to wait till such time the estate officer gives him notice. He cannot file this application here treating the writ court as an original court under the public premises act.”

He further said that the cancellation of his privileges is an integral part of the reference given to the President by the L-G, stating that this has been mentioned in his counter affidavit. The issue had been referred to the President of India on November 30, 2022, by the L-G owing to a difference of opinion between him and the CM on the issue.

The L-G’s counter affidavit filed in November last year stated that exercising his powers under Article 239AA(4) of the Constitution read with rule 51 of the Transaction of Business of the Government of National Capital of Delhi Rules 1993 (TBR), the L-G directed that Shah be prohibited from discharging the function of vice-chairperson, DDCD, and from using official premises connected with the office, pending the decision of the President of India.

The ASG submitted that his client was “nobody to issue coercive measures” and it was an order passed by the PWD, not his client.

However, Justice Singh said that she was “surprised to see this application” when the matter had been adjourned for arguments on the main issue.

Shah’s application stated that this is a case of “purely malafide exercise of power”, and that the April 25 order is part of a “deliberate design of the respondents to defeat the rights of the Petitioner herein”.

The plea further stated that Shah’s term is not completed or has been terminated at all hence, it is unclear why his eviction was sought nearly six months after the November 17 orders.


  • Adam Gray

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