The Delhi High Court Monday directed the Social Welfare Department, Delhi government, to remove “iron gates, barriers and temporary structures” from the premises of a deaf school in a plea claiming that the department was “usurping” the school building and the grounds over the past 14 years.
A single-judge bench of Justice Yashwant Varma granted three months time to the government to vacate the school premises. The HC in the interim directed the government to “remove forthwith” any “iron gates, barriers or other temporary structures” erected by the department that “deny access to school playgrounds”. The matter is now listed on January 19.
The counsel for the Delhi government had filed an additional affidavit on the updated status of the matter. He submitted that the department had started vacating. The counsel for the petitioner submitted that while some steps had been taken by the government towards this end, on inspection she had found that iron gates denied students access to the playground.
The plea filed by the former students’ association in 2019 alleges that “the social welfare department of the Delhi government is usurping the building and part of the grounds” which are meant for running the Govt Lady Noyce School for the Deaf. The plea further states that though the respondent had opened certain offices on a temporary basis, 14 years have passed and the department continued to operate from said premises.
The petitioner had claimed that the playground meant for the school children is being used as a parking lot by the respondent and further construction is being raised. In its order dated July 29, 2019, the HC prohibited the respondent from parking cars or carrying further construction on the premises. “…this Court directs that till the next date of hearing, no cars will be parked on the premises of the school and no further construction will be carried out on that place,” the court held.
It further noted that prima facie, the respondent should not have opened its offices on the premises in the first place. “The area was allotted for running a school; it was not meant for commercial use, as offices. Plainly, the students of the school would have precedence for using the open space, vis-a-vis the employees of the respondent, using the same as parking lots,” the court had observed in its 2019 order.