As the new Parliament building is getting inaugurated today, let us have a look at the cases relating to it and the Central Vista Project.Challenge to Central Vista ProjectIn 2020, a petition was filed by one Rajeev Suri in the Delhi High Court challenging the Central Vista Redevelopment Project, which includes the construction of the new Parliament building. The petitioners had challenged,...
As the new Parliament building is getting inaugurated today, let us have a look at the cases relating to it and the Central Vista Project.
Challenge to Central Vista Project
In 2020, a petition was filed by one Rajeev Suri in the Delhi High Court challenging the Central Vista Redevelopment Project, which includes the construction of the new Parliament building. The petitioners had challenged, inter alia, the grant of Environmental Clearance, grant of approval by the Delhi Urban Art Commission (DUAC) and the Heritage Conservation Committee, the approval for land use change as per the DDA Act, selection of design consultant etc. In February 2020, a single bench of the High Court directed that the DDA should notify the Court before approving any land use change in Central Vista. This order was stayed by a division bench in Centre's appeal. Later, in March 2020, the Supreme Court transferred to itself the case from the Delhi High Court in "larger public interest". Subsequently, other writ petitions were also filed in the Supreme Court challenging the project.
In January 2021, a bench comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna, by 2:1 majority, upheld the approvals and clearances granted for the Central Vista Project. Justice Khanna, in his dissent, held that the approval was bad in law for lack of public consultation as per the DDA Act, that there was no prior approval from the HCC and that the Environmental Clearance was granted without assigning reasons.
Challenge to Central Vista Project work during COVID second wave
In April 2021, during the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, translator Anya Malhotra and historian and documentary filmmaker Sohail Hashmi filed a PIL in the Delhi High Court seeking to suspend the Central Vista Project work citing health risks to the labourers and also to the general public. The petitioners argued that it is not an essential work which is to be granted exemption during the lockdown period. They also argued that workers were being transported daily from their labour camps to the work site, and this will lead to spreading of the coronavirus.
Taking into account the statement of the government that the workers were staying on site and all arrangements had been made to ensure COVID-19 appropriate behaviour on site, a division bench comprising the then Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh dismissed the PIL with costs of Rupees one lakh. While terming the petition as "motivated", the Court observed that Central Vista Project is of "national importance" and is supposed to be completed within November 2021, and hence "time is of the essence of the contract". In June 2021, the Supreme Court affirmed the Delhi High Court's view, and refused to remove the costs imposed on the petitioners. While doing so, the bench led by Justice AM Khanwilkar observed that the petitioners had "selectively" challenged the Central Vista project, leaving out other project works.
Challenge to design of lion statute atop new Parliament building
Last year, the Supreme Court held that the lion sculpture installed atop the new Parliament building under construction as part of the Central Vista project does not violate the State Emblem of India (Prohibition of Improper Use) Act, 2005. Holding so, a bench comprising Justice MR Shah and Justice Krishna Murari dismissed a PIL filed by two lawyers who claimed that the new sculpture was contrary to the design of the national emblem approved under the State Emblem of India (Prohibition of Improper Use) Act, 2005. The petitioners, Advocates Aldanish Rein and Ramesh Kumar Mishra, had contended that the lions in the concerned emblem appeared to be ferocious and aggressive with their mouth open and canine visible, while the ones of the Sarnath Lion Capital of Ashoka, which it ought to resemble, were "calm and composed". It was further averred that the four lions being representative of the four core spiritual philosophies of Budhha, were not merely a design, but had cultural and philosophical significance
Challenge to Prime Minister inaugurating the new building instead of the President
Two days before the scheduled inauguration, the Supreme Court refused to entertain a Public Interest Litigation seeking a direction that the President of India, rather than the Prime Minister, should inaugurate the new Parliament building. The petitioner Advocate CR Jaya Sukin argued that not inviting the President for the ceremony was "a humiliation and a violation of the Constitution". He argued that the President, the first citizen of the nation, had the power to summon and prorogue the Parliament sessions. Further, it was the President who appointed the Prime Minister and other Ministers and all executive actions were taken in the name of the President. However, the Court was unmoved and even told the petitioner that he should be glad that no costs were imposed on him. When the petitioner cited Article 79 of the Constitution, which says that Parliament shall comprise of the President and the two houses, the bench asked how is this connected with the inauguration ceremony.