The Delhi High Court recently ordered the status quo to be maintained in terms of the occupation, renovation or building of the space vacated by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy in the building, where the National Law Tribunal (NCLT) is located, till May 4, 2022.
Acting Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Navin Chawla of a division bench were of the opinion that having different NCLT benches at the same time was unnecessary.
“It goes without saying, that the entire institution should be housed at one place, if the institution which requires the assistance and coordination of the Bar, has to run efficiently.”
The Bench was hearing a complaint made by the NCLT Bar Association in 2018 concerning multiple inadequacies at the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) and National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT).
The NCLT was working on the sixth, seventh and eighth floors of the building in question, while other institutions were operating on the ground, first and the second floors, the court noted in September 2019, while acknowledging the petitioners’ problems.
The court observed that the space on the ground, first and second floors of the same building could be made available to NCLT and the 11,860 square feet could be allocated to other Government departments rather than providing 11,860 square feet on the first floor for the NCLT to set up two additional benches.
In response to the aforementioned, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs Deputy Director of Estates filed a response, revealing that the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy was constructing its own building, which would be completed by October 2020, and that the first floor of the building in which the NCLT is currently housed would be vacated by December 2020.
The Centre’s senior panel counsel, Bharathi Raju, told the Court that the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy had vacated the first floor of the aforementioned building, where the NCLT is located, and that the space had been allocated to other ministries.
The court found that the involved authorities did not give the Court’s ruling fair attention, and that no justifications were given for not reserving the vacant first floor for use by the NCLT in the same building and allocating it to other departments.
“Having different benches of the NCLT at different locations, is bound to cause administrative difficulties in the functioning of the NCLT, as well as difficulties for the Advocates and litigants.”
The Court believed that the NCLT should have been given priority over any other Ministry in receiving the land. It went on to say that the 11,860 square feet of land previously given to the NCLT may be used by other Ministries instead.
“We direct the Director of Estates to file a specific affidavit in this regard. We also direct maintenance of status quo with regard to the occupation, renovation or construction of the space vacated by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy in the building, where the NCLT is located, till the next date.”
The case has been rescheduled for May 4th.