New Delhi: The Centre has said in its eviction notice that the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund (JNMF) was being asked to vacate its premises at Teen Murti Bhavan to preserve the legacy of “other former prime minister’s of India”.
The government is planning a museum for all the former prime ministers of the country on the 25 acre Teen Murti Bhavan complex housing the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial and needed space to expand, the notice sent to JNMF said.
The notice, a copy of which is with PTI, said that the Nehru Memorial Museum and the Library Society’s executive committee, in its June meeting this year, discussed the “unauthorised occupation” of the barracks by the Fund, which has been a part of Teen Murti for the past 51 years.
On August 23, in a letter to the housing and urban affairs, the society requested the government to have the space vacated.
The notice said that the Nehru Memorial Museum Library (NMML) “is found to have been struggling to accommodate more space to achieve its objects and is in dire need of space in the Teen Murti Estate”.
“Considering the said proposals which appeared to be genuine, bonafide and in the interest of the objects of the said Society and in furtherance of achieving the goal of maintaining the legacy of Jawaharlal Nehru and Lal Bahadur Shastri, who last occupied the premises and the legacy of other former prime ministers of India, the matter was examined in the present context referred above,” the notice said.
Both the parties have cited a memorandum from January 1967, issued after the then prime minister, Lal Bahadur Shastri, declined to move into Teen Murti, which was the residence of India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, to explain their case.
The memorandum said that the “Prime Minister’s Pool” of estates, including over half-a-dozen bungalows on Teen Murti Marg and Willingdon Crescent, were absorbed into the “General Pool” of government properties.
The NMML, which was registered the previous year, came to be “in occupation and possession” of Teen Murti Estate.
The notice says that while the NMML Society had in August 1967 submitted a request for the barracks – then being used as “an enquiry office-cum-godown” by the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) – to be given to the Fund for use, the property continues to be “owned by the central government” and the Society “never sought any sanction” for changing the occupation of that area.
Replying to the notice, the Fund’s administrator pointed out that the government had no right to evict them as the same 1967 memorandum said that the properties within the boundary walls of Teen Murti house were not a part of this transfer to the “General Pool”.
“The premises in the east of Teen Murti House and which are within the boundary wall of Teen Murti House will remain the property of the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library,” it said.
The Fund also said that it was “fully entitled to using this property as it has functioned in the public interest over the past half century or more in fulfilment of both its own objects and those of the [Nehru Memorial Museum and Library]”.
While the Housing Ministry has said that the Fund was liable to pay damages for “illegal occupation of the premises with effect from August 28, 1967,” and maintained on Tuesday that “all options, including issuance of show cause notice are being explored by us,” an official said.
“We have written the letter to them to withdraw the notice. We are waiting for their response. The charges are simply not true,” said Dr N. Balakrishnan, the Fund’s administrative secretary told PTI.
Established in 1964, the Fund’s offices are not part of the main building but occupy a set of barracks on its eastern side with a separate entry from Teen Murti Marg.