The Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry has sent a notice to the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund to vacate the Teen Murti Bhavan premises even as the body denied claims that it was in illegal possession of the property.
Established in 1964, the Fund has been located at Teen Murti, once the residence of India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, since 1967. Its 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.
The Fund offers research fellowships to academics from across disciplines, conducts an annual lecture and organizes memorial functions. In addition to these, it has also managed or funded other institutions such as the Jawahar Bal Bhavans for children and Anand Bhavan, the Nehru family's Allahabad home, which now houses a planetarium, an exhibition and organizes its own annual functions.
The Fund is chaired by Congress leader Sonia Gandhi and has former Rajya Sabha MP Karan Singh as vice-chairman.
"I had written to the ministry giving them two options. One was to build for us a new building or two, vacate the space given to JNMF. We found out that the allotment process of the JNMF building was not legally sustainable. The entire property belongs to the ministry and they have occupied government property wrongly," Shakti Sinha told PTI.
The Fund's administrators disagree.
Political analyst and the Fund's trustee, Zoya Hasan said the eviction notice was part of attempts to "dilute" the legacy of Nehru.
"A reply has been sent to the ministry stating that there has been no illegal occupation by the JNMF. The organization has been there for more than 50 years and none has ever questioned its legality," Hasan told PTI.
The letter from the Fund to the ministry, sources said, states that its occupation of the office buildings in the Teen Murti Estate is totally legal and duly authorized and has been recognized, accepted and duly permitted all through last several years since 1967 by both the HUA Ministry as well as NMML.
It also says that over the years it has worked on several projects along with NMML including setting up the sound and light show and the planetarium which was both donated to NMML.