The Delhi High Court on Thursday asked the Centre to maintain status quo with regard to its eviction procees initiated against Associated Journals Ltd(AJL), publisher of the National Herald newspaper, to vacate its Herald House premises here till November 22.

Justice Sunil Gaur granted interim protection to AJL from eviction after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, assured that the government will not take physical possession of the premise till the next date of hearing.

AJL had approached the high court on Monday challenging the October 30 order of the Urban Development Ministry, ending its 56-year-old lease and asking it to vacate the premises in the press enclave at ITO here.

One of the grounds mentioned in the L&DO order is that no press has been functioning in the premises for last at least 10 years and that it is being used only for commercial purposes in violation of the lease deed. The allegation has been refuted by AJL in the petition.

AJL said that the committee members who came for inspection did not visit the rooms where the printing press was installed along with the stock of papers. “AJL had been publishing a newspaper for the last several decades and that although there was a brief temporary suspension period due to financial trouble the formal newspaper and digital media operations had fully resumed,” the plea said.

The publisher submitted that the Centre’s order “is vitiated by malafides, bias and has been issued with oblique polite motives. The proceedings have been initiated for the purposes of scuttling the voices of dissent and thevoice of the largest opposition party in the country”.

The AJL, in its plea, alleged that “Since their (BJP’s) ascension to power, post May 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the ruling dispensation have put into action several covert and overt measures to erase, efface and defame the legacy of Pandit Nehru. The impugned order is yet another manifestation of their nefarious plans”.