By Tanya Vashishta
The Supreme Court on Thursday declined to put on hold the Central Vista project set out to build a new parliament and other central government offices in Lutyens Delhi.
“A similar petition against the project is pending in court. No need to duplicate.” Chief Justice of India SA Bobde said.
A bench comprising Chief Justice SA Bobde & Aniruddha Bose further stated that only “urgent” cases are to be taken up during the COVID19 lockdown.
“During COVID-19 situation, nobody is going to do anything and there is no urgency” – Supreme Court
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the government, said, “Parliament is being constructed… Why should anyone have any objection?”
The petition challenged land use for the Central Vista project, alleging that the project covering 86 acre in Lutyens’ zone is a “brash move” and will deprive people enjoying open and green spaces.
The plea contended that the Government’s notification, dated March 20, 2020, which supersedes a Public Notice issued by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) on December 19, 2019 is a subjugation of Rule of Law and judicial protocol as the 2019 notice is under challenge and being heard by the Supreme Court itself.
With regard to the Government’s Rs. 20,000 crore Central Vista project, the DDA issued a Public Notice inviting objections against proposed changes in land use in December 2019.
On March 20, 2020 the Centre notified a change in land use pertaining to approximately 86 acres of land in the heart of Lutyens Delhi, marked by structures like the Parliament, Rashtrapati Bhavan, India Gate, North Block and South Block amongst others.
On February 11, while hearing a challenge against the December notification, a single bench of the Delhi HC had directed that the Delhi Development Authority should get approach the court before notifying the proposed land-use changes in Central Vista. This was in a writ petition filed by one Rajeev Suri (who is the petitioner in the fresh plea before the SC).
This was stayed by a division bench of the Delhi High Court on February 28, in appeals filed by the Centre and the DDA.
Earlier, a division bench of the Delhi High Court had stayed a Single Judge Bench order, directing the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) to approach the Court
Aggrieved by the Division Bench order, and apprehending that the DDA may notify the proposed land-use changes, Rajeev Suri approached the SC.
On March 6, a bench comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari transferred the writ petition in the High Court to the SC.
“…in larger public interest, we deem it appropriate that the entire matter pertaining to challenge pending before the High Court is heard and decided by this court expeditiously”, the bench had observed then.
It was also clarified by the bench that any steps taken by the authorities, in the meantime, will be subject to the outcome of the proceedings.