The Delhi High Court Monday gave six months to the Delhi Public Library (DPL) to relocate its branch at Karol Bagh here, which was in a dilapidated condition, to another location accessible to the general public.
A bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V K Rao said a PIL before it primarily pertained to the preservation of books at the DPL branch in Karol Bagh and hence it would not interfere in the dispute over the building where the library was housed since 1954.
The court said that according to the DPL, the books have been preserved after removing them from there to another location and therefore, the only direction that can be issued in the matter was to relocate the library at some other location.
"The respondent 2 (Delhi Public Library) is given six months to re-establish a library elsewhere which is convenient for the public at large. No further directions are required," the bench said.
The order came as the court disposed of a petition by some scholars and journalists, who had moved against the North Delhi Municipal Corporation's notices to the library to vacate the premises, which according to the civic body, was structurally unfit and dangerous.
During the earlier proceedings, the court had from time to time directed the library to move the books to a safe location to prevent them from getting damaged during the monsoon as the building's roof was crumbling.
Funded by the Ministry of Culture, the Delhi Public Library is an autonomous body which has around 45 branches and mobile libraries across Delhi. The first Delhi Public Library was started by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru across the Old Delhi Railway Station in 1951.
The court had on December 6 last asked the library to preserve its books, which were locked up in the premises since November 2016. It had directed the authorities to shift the books, CDs, computers, catalogues and other material there to the library's head office or any other safe location.
The library was issued the first notice by the corporation on September 15, 2016 and the second one on November 4, 2017, asking it to vacate so that the building could be demolished.
Seeking quashing of the notices, the petitioners had alleged that the building's owner, Dimple Enterprises, "wants a commercial complex in place of the library in order to make money from the land".
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