DDA contemplating to open outdoor facilities of Roshanara club from next week, HC told

The Delhi Development Authority on Wednesday told the Delhi High Court that it was contemplating to open from next week the outdoor area of Roshanara Club, the cradle of Indian cricket, which was recently sealed by it.

The DDA said the century-old club would remain the same and the only ownership would be with the land-owning agency.

The submission was made by the DDA before Justice Anup Jairam Bhambhani during the hearing on a contempt petition filed by Roshanara Club Ltd against the agency.

The DDA had sealed the club premises on September 29 and took possession of the historic club.

The move came nearly six months after an eviction notice was served on the club by the agency as its lease had expired earlier.

Senior advocates Sandeep Sethi and Mohit Mathur, representing the Roshanara Club, submitted that in April, a single judge of the high court had “directed that no coercive steps be taken against the petitioner club solely on the ground that the lease of the petitioner club has already expired”.

A related issue of the club is also pending before a division bench of the high court.

The council said the eviction has been enforced while the question of lease renewal is still pending.

“What is the purpose of the court’s order of no coercive steps? This is the extreme coercive step which they have taken by sealing the club,” Sethi argued.

Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Chetan Sharma, representing the DDA, submitted that members of the club will continue to remain members and that DDA was within its right to exercise its ownership of the property.

“The DDA is now taking an egalitarian view. Not only the 4,000 members but for all the Roshanara Club will be opening its portal to. It is going to be for everybody including the members. No facility is going to be restricted. It is not that the club will shut down,” he said.

To this, the judge said, “it will not remain a club. Club is always a closed affair”.

The ASG responded that it will remain a club and now the DDA has come back as a paramount owner. Technically, the lease comes back to the DDA and it will run the club and they will be opening the portal for everybody, he said.

He argued that contempt is not made out in this case and this contempt plea has been filed to arm-twist the DDA.

Standing counsel for the DDA Manika Tripathy also submitted that it is contemplating opening the outdoor facilities, including the major BCCI ground, cricket ground and other grounds, within a week’s time and it will be open for all with a human touch.

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“Till now it was under the Roshanara Club and it will remain a club. The management will be with us because the ownership is ours. So we will be taking care of the gardens and other things,” she said.

The judge observed, “If that is the plan of action then the whole context and backdrop will change. I don’t mean to be elitist but a club is a club. It is by definition for members. You can open and close memberships. But if you are going to throw it open as a general sports facility for everyone then .”

The court added, “If you are going to terminate the leases after every 60 or 99 years then where is the continuity or legacy? Then there is no legacy”.

The court listed the matter for further hearing next week when the DDA will come back with proper instructions.

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.

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