The century-old Roshanara Club in Delhi - the cradle of Indian cricket - was on Friday sealed by the Delhi Development Authority, which also took possession of the historic club, officials said.
The action was taken in the early hours and comes nearly six months after an "eviction notice" was served on the club by the DDA as its lease had expired earlier, a senior official said.
The historic club was established on August 15, 1922 and had turned 100 last year.
Endowed with natural beauty, green pastures and colonial-era charm, Roshanara Club, located in north Delhi, has emerged as one of the most prestigious clubs in the country.
"Following court orders, that inter alia upheld its eviction order dated, 12.04.2023, the Delhi Development Authority today evicted and took possession of the premises of Roshanara Club Ltd, the leases for which had expired 11 years back in 2012 and six years back in 2017," the DDA said in a statement.
This action was taken under provisions of section 5 (2) of the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, 1971 or the PPE Act, 1971, it said.
"Roshanara Club Ltd. was granted two premium free leases by the Secretary of State for India in Council during the British Raj on annual rent basis for 30 years, which was extendable by further two periods of 30 years each, i.e., up to a maximum period of 90 years. The first lease commenced on 01.09.1922 while the second, on 01.01.1928. The total area given on lease to the Club was 23.29 acres," it said.
"The lease deeds did not have any provision for renewal or extension beyond 90 years. Thus, both the leases expired on 31.08.2012 and 31.12.2017, respectively," the urban body said in the statement.
The annual lease rent of the first lease was Rs 100. For the second lease, the annual lease rent was Rs 3,200 for the last period of 30 years, it added.
Rajan Manchanda, general secretary of the Club and joint secretary of the Delhi & District Cricket Association (DDCA), appealed to the authorities to "extend the lease period" and said the club has planned to "approach Delhi High Court".
"This is a historic club where cricket greats like Lala Amarnath, Nawab Pataudi, Bishan Singh Bedi, and even many current players have cut their teeth. It has hosted many international matches and Ranji Trophy matches," he told PTI.
Many other clubs older than ours have got extension, our club should also be therefore given an extension, Manchanda said and claimed that after expiration of lease, in 2018, a brief extension was given by authorities, and said "a policy may be worked out".
However, after the April notice, "we approached the high court" and the matter then went to a lower court, he said.
This eviction order of Estate Officer was challenged by Roshanara Club before the High Court. "The High Court disposed the case vide order dated 21.04.2023 as not pressed," the DDA said in the statement.
The Roshanara Club Ltd. then challenged the eviction order before the Principal District & Sessions Judge, Tis Hazari Court, it said.
"Meanwhile, DDA filed an LPA before a division bench of the Hon'ble High Court against the order dated 21.04.2023 of the Single Judge Bench. This LPA was disposed of vide order dated 14.06.2023 by the Hon'ble High Court directing that the order dated 21.04.2023 of the single bench will not come in way of the Principal District Judge while deciding the appeal, and also that in case, an application for vacation of stay is preferred before the learned Principal District Judge, the same will be decided on merits," it added.
The Principal District & Sessions Judge after hearing the case of both the parties pronounced its judgement on September 25, "dismissing the appeal of Roshanara Club Ltd. and upholding the eviction order dated 12.04.2023 passed by the Estate Officer/Central Zone," the statement said.
Action for eviction and taking over possession of the premises of Roshanara Club Ltd. was carried out on Friday at around 6 am, with the assistance of police and independent official witness by the Estate Officer along with other employees of DDA and possession of the premises has been taken over, it added.
"In due compliance of the statutory provisions under PPE Act, 1971, an opportunity has been afforded, by way of written communication sent by e-mail, to the club authorities to remove the perishable items on 29.09.2023 between 12.30 pm and 3.30 pm, to which they are yet to respond," the statement said.
During the eviction proceedings, it was found that apart from "illegally occupying land worth thousands of crores for years together, the management of the club had allowed about 3.5 acres of precious land, out of 23.29 acres land leased to the Club, to be encroached," it said.
"The cost of the encroached land itself works out to more than Rs 180 crore as per the prevalent circle rate. The management of the Club had also unauthorisedly let out land to nurseries and illegal hutments. Furthermore, Roshanara Club Ltd. has been in unauthorised occupation of the land for years together after expiry of the lease, for which it is to pay damages," the statement said.
Manchanda, general secretary of the Club, denied these charges by the DDA.
"It was found that the historic and iconic Club, land for which was leased for public purposes, and which holds the distinction of serving as the cradle of Indian cricket, had of late become the private property of certain individuals. The Club building and the premise were in a state of total disrepair due to lack of maintenance and upkeep," the statement said.
"It is planned that all necessary steps will be taken to restore the historic Roshanara Club to its past glory at the earliest," it said.
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