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Central Vista Project: Supreme Court Allows Foundation Ceremony For New Parliament Building Without Altering Site In Any Manner

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
7 Dec 2020 5:32 AM GMT
Central Vista Project: Supreme Court Allows Foundation Ceremony For New Parliament Building Without Altering Site In Any Manner
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"We clarify that the authorities would be free to continue with procedural processes without altering the status of the site(s) in question in any manner, including to continue with the scheduled progmramme of foundation stone-laying on 10th December, 2020", Supreme Court said in the Order.

Supreme Court on Monday allowed the Central Government to conduct the foundation ceremony of the Central Vista project without altering the status of the site in any manner. After the Court slammed the Central Government for going ahead with the construction works of the project even when the judgment on the petitions against it is awaited, the Solicitor General Tushar Mehta undertook...

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Supreme Court on Monday allowed the Central Government to conduct the foundation ceremony of the Central Vista project without altering the status of the site in any manner. 

After the Court slammed the Central Government for going ahead with the construction works of the project even when the judgment on the petitions against it is awaited, the Solicitor General Tushar Mehta undertook that no construction or demolition of structures or cutting down of trees will take place.

Following that, the Court ordered that there should be no construction or demolition of structures or cutting down of trees in relation to the ambitious Central Vista project of the Central Government.

The Court said that the Centre can proceed with the paperwork of the project and also the foundation stone laying ceremony of the proposed new Parliament building scheduled on December 10, but cannot carry out construction or demolition works.

On November 5, the Court had reserved judgment on a batch of petitions challenging the Central Vista project. The Court said that it listed the case today after noticing some developments in the public domain. It may be noted that the 'bhumi pujan' ceremony for the new Parliament building has been announced to be held on December 10. The Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, will lay the foundation for the new building.

Also, there were reports last week of cutting down trees and removing structures in connection with the Central Vista project.

On Monday, the Supreme Court expressed displeasure at the Central Government for going ahead "aggressively" with the construction projects even when the issue of legality of the Central Vista project was sub-judice.

"We thought we are dealing with a prudent litigant and deference will be shown. Just because there is no stay it does not mean that you can go head with everything", a visibly upset Justice A M Khanwilkar told the Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.

Faced with the displeasure of the bench, the Solicitor General sought time till tomorrow to seek instructions. But the bench insisted that the SG should get back today itself.

"We have shown deference to you and expected that you will act in a prudent manner. The same deference should be shown to the Court and there should be no demolition or construction", the bench told the SG.

After a short while, the SG got back to the bench.

"My sincere apologies to the Lordships. I can make a statement that there will be no construction, demolition or felling of trees. Foundation stone will be laid. But, no physical change", the SG said.

"Paperwork you can proceed. But, once you change structure, then it will be difficult to restore it", the Court said.

The Court ultimately passed an order recording the statement of the SG that there will be no construction activities.

"This matter was listed suo moto and after interacting with SG, the Court is making the order. The SG has made the statement that there will be no construction or demolition on the concerned sites, or translocation of trees; this will also be kept in abeyance.

List the SG's statement on record. We clarify in view of the above that the authorities will be free to undertake other formal processes without altering the site in any manner, including continuing with scheduled programme of foundation stone on 10th December".



The bench had held hearing on a batch of petitions challenging the Rs. 20,000 crore Central Vista project, involving renovation and redevelopment of 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 a notification issued by the Delhi Development Authority regarding the Central Vista project, 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.

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.

Later, few more petitions were filed challenging the project. In April, the bench had refused to put a stay on the decision making processes related to the project.

During October-November, the bench held final hearing on the petitions, hearing Senior Advocates Shyam Divan, Sanjay Hegde, Advocates Gautam Bhatia, Vrinda Bhandari and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta in the case. Judgment was reserved on November 5.

Reports about the hearings in the case available here.

Click here to download the order

Read Order












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