MEENA KUMARI Vs. UNION OF INDIA
LAWS(DLH)-2007-2-29
HIGH COURT OF DELHI
Decided on February 02,2007

MEENA KUMARI,HANNA EDUCATION OF FINE ARTS AND CULTURE (REGD) THROUGH GENERAL SECRETARY Appellant
VERSUS
UNION OF INDIA Respondents

JUDGEMENT

BADAR DURREZ AHMED, J. - (1.) These two writ petitions are taken up together as they raise the same issues. The prayers sought in the petitions are also virtually identical, the only difference being that in WP(C) No.22562-63/2005, the petitioners themselves are seeking allotment of the new shared studios belonging to the Lalit Kala Akademi, whereas in the other writ petition, i.e., WP (C) 7808-13/2005, the petitioners include societies of artists and individual artists who by themselves are not seeking allotment, but have filed the petitions in the general interest of the body of artists.
(2.) The undisputed facts are that the Lalit Kala Akademi has three types of studios for artists known as Garhi Studios. The first kind are the original studios which are termed as 'Old Studios'; the second kind are the new constructions which are termed as 'New Shared Studios'; the third kind are the 'Community Studios'. The old studios as well as the new shared studios are allotted to two or more persons jointly except for one old shared studio which was allotted to Prof. Sankho Chaudhary who has admittedly been treated as an exception and is not in controversy. The community studio houses are for upto 20 artists at a time. Prior to 1998, the allotment of studios was not regulated by any rules. However, in 1998, the Rules of procedure for admission to and Regulations governing the use of the shared studio facilities of the Akademi at Garhi, Delhi were formulated. Separate rules were formulated for Old Garhi Studios as well as the Shared New Garhi Studios. The Old Garhi Studio Rules 1998 as well as the Shared New Garhi Studio Rules 1998 contained categories of artists which are described in identical fashion in both the sets of rules. The categories were "distinguished" artists, "eligible" artists, "eminent" artists and "recognised" artists. The dispute in the present case pertains to the Shared New Garhi Studios and the rules for allotment to artists. Rule 3 of the 1998 Rules prescribes the procedure for admission to these shared studios of the Lalit Kala Akademi. The said Rule 3 reads as under:- "3. The rules of procedure for admission to shared new studios of the Lalit Kala Akademi at Garhi Delhi shall be as follows:- (i) Studios are normally for use by full fledged Artists. Priority will be given to Recognised and Eminent artists who are not in full time employment or business and are without studios of their own. In exceptional cases the Executive Board of the Akademi may in the interest of art promotion and on the recommendations of the admission committee admit the overriding priority [ ]4 without studios of their own. (ii) 'Artists' seeking admission to the Studios may apply at any time (application form is given in Appendix I and is also available from the Office of the Studio during working hours). In [May]5 of every year applications will be invited for allotment of vacancies [if any]6 in studios in the forthcoming [12 months beginning from July.]7 Applications received in prescribed form prior to date of advertisement and applications received upto the last date for receipt of application forms given in the advertisement will be considered and selections made. Only thereafter applications received after the said last date shall be considered. On being selected by the Admission Committee, which normally will meet once a month, the Artists will be allowed by the Secretary of the Akademi, the use of the studios after receiving written undertakings in the form given in Appendix II and payment of security deposit as given in Appendix III. The Admission Committee may interview or hold discussions with the artists and see some of their works where considered necessary before admitting them. The admission committee will normally admit 2 artists per studio taking into account the demand for admission and availability of studios and keeping in mind preferences of artists to team up with one another. (iii) Admission will not be for less than a month. Normally admission will be given for upto 12 months only, but this period may be extended upto 24 months, if the reports on the artist by the Secretary in the first 12 months are satisfactory. Other things being equal, artists waiting to be admitted will be given preference over those seeking extension beyond 24 months. Artists will be again eligible for fresh admission after a break of one year, or earlier if vacancies are available and no other application is pending. In exceptional cases, in the interest of art promotion the Executive Board may on the recommendations of the admission committee give fresh admission for a second term of two years to any artist. Admission more than two consecutive terms ie. stretch of four years may be given with the approval of the General Council, in very exceptional cases on the recommendations of the Admission Committee and the Executive Board. At no time shall the number of foreign artists admitted exceed four."
(3.) It is clear from a reading of clause (i) of the aforesaid rules that priority was to be given to recognised and eminent artists who were not in full time employment or business and / or without studios of their own. It is the case of the respondents that the four petitioners in WP(C) 22562-65/2005 do not fall in the category of "eminent" or "recognised" artists. Eminent artist has been defined as under:- "Eminent Artist- means an artist whose eminence has been acknowledged by the Akademi by display of his works in an invited section in any of the National Exhibitions of Art or International Exhibitions of the Akademi since its inception in 1954, on the basis of selection by a Jury constituted by the Akademi; or an artist, whose eminence has been acknowledged by the Akademi by way of inclusion of his name in the Special Roll of Juries from which Juries are selected by the Akademi." Recognised artist has been defined as under:- "Recognised Artist"means an artist who has (a) won an award or honourable mention in, or (b) exhibited his work in two or more of the National Exhibitions of Art or International Exhibitions of the Akademi since its inception in August 1954." A tabulation has been placed on record as Annexure-R-2 to the counter-affidavit filed on behalf of the respondents 2 and 3 which clearly indicates that the four petitioners, namely, Meena Kumari, Ved Prakash, Suresh Kumar and Manoj Aggarwal do not fall in the category of either "eminent" artists or "recognised" artists.;


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