Delhi HC favours reopening sealed Roshanara Club

The Delhi High Court Friday favoured re-opening the century-old Roshanara Club here for its members after its premises were sealed and taken over by DDA last month, nearly six months after an eviction notice was served to it on account of expiry of its lease.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma said Roshanara was a “running club” and its members should be permitted to use its facilities.

“I want the club to start immediately. Make the club functional,” the court said.

Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma, appearing for the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), assured the court that the club has not been closed and only its management has shifted to the government which will re-open the outer area in one week and “run it much better”.

Asserting that the government has given a fillip to sports in the country as he highlighted the success of Indian athletes at the ongoing Asian Games, the senior law officer submitted the prime area of Roshanara has to be used for “egalitarian” purposes and not for the benefit of an “elitist conglomerate”.

“Club remains, management has changed. Members remain…We will continue to run it. We will make it world class. We have only taken back our land,” ASG Sharma said.

“We will protect the members but the government can’t be told you can’t take deserving (outsiders),” he added.

The erstwhile management of the club contended that the takeover of the club was against the orders of a single judge of the high court and cannot be sustained, especially when the plea seeking renewal of the lease was still pending.

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“We do not intend to renew the lease. Lease has expired. Period. Government will run (the club),” the ASG responded. He nonetheless said that the authorities may seek cooperation of the management to run it.

The bench, also comprising Justice Sanjeev Narula, said it will pass an order in the matter.

The court was hearing an appeal by the DDA, which was filed earlier this year against an order of the single judge of the high court protecting the club from any coercive action in relation to the expiry of its lease.

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, is one of the most prestigious clubs in the country.

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