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[BREAKING] Central Vista : Supreme Court Dismisses Plea Challenging Proposed Change In Land Use Of Plot For Residences Of Vice President, Prime Minister

Sohini Chowdhury
23 Nov 2021 5:23 AM GMT
[BREAKING] Central Vista : Supreme Court Dismisses Plea Challenging Proposed Change In Land Use Of Plot For Residences Of Vice President, Prime Minister
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The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a writ petition which challenged the proposal to change the land use of Plot 1 in the Central Vista area from "recreational" to "residential" to build the new official residences of Vice President and the Prime Minister.A bench comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and CT Ravikumar dismissed the writ petition filed by Rajeev Suri, who...

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a writ petition which challenged the proposal to change the land use of Plot 1 in the Central Vista area from "recreational" to "residential" to build the new official residences of Vice President and the Prime Minister.

A bench comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and CT Ravikumar dismissed the writ petition filed by Rajeev Suri, who had earlier unsuccessfully challenged the notifications for the Central Vista Project.

In the latest petition, the petitioner submitted that he was confining his challenge only to the proposed change in land use of Plot 1, which, according to him, will result in loss of recreational area and open green area for the public.

The petitioner's counsel Shiv Shikhil Suri argued that the change of open green area to residential area is against public interest. About 6 acres of green area is proposed to be taken over, he submitted.

The bench asked how the proposed change is impermissible in law.

"They say that the area is proposed to be made into residential area for Vice President...it is a policy decision. How is it illegal? What are the mala fides?", Justice Khanwilkar asked.

"Assuming the plot was used for recreational area in the post, is it not open for the authorities to change for the holistic development of the area?", the judge asked.

The petitioner's counsel argued that the prayer is to protect the green areas and alternate sites should be explored by the authorities.

"So, suggestion from common people has to be taken where the Vice President's house is to be located?Is it a matter of arithmetic when 10m area is taken then 10m area has to be provided elsewhere", Justice Khanwilkar asked. The judge also pointed out that the Centre has said in its affidavit that they are increasing the green area overall. The bench

The counsel argued that he is invoking the doctrine of public trust.

"We are not impressed with this argument. If you have any better argument we will consider that. Show us one judgment which say that a plot once described as recreational area cannot be changed at all? It is a matter of policy. Where else can be the residence of President, Vice President be located?Everything can be criticized but the criticism should be constructive", Justice Khanwilkar asked.

"There should be an end to this", Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta submitted.

After that, the bench proceeded to dictate an order to dismiss the petition, observing that the land use change was a matter of policy, which was not open to judicial review, especially when the petitioner has not alleged any illegality or mala fides.

The order passed by the bench stated as follows :

"We have heard Mr.Suri. In the light of the challenge, a detailed reply affidavit has been filed giving necessary information about the necessity of change brought about in respect of plot number 1. It is not the case of the petitioner that the authorities have no power to introduce such change. The only argument is that in past since the plot was shown as recreational ground it should be retained as such and at least the commensurate area should have been provided elsewhere for such purpose. This cannot be the scope of judicial review. It is the prerogative of the authority concerned and the change effected in the development plan in one sense is a matter of policy. It is not the case of the petitioner that the change has been made for mala fide reasons. Suffice to observe sufficient explanation has been provided to justify the change in use of plot number 1. We find no reason to examine the matter further and want to put a quiets to the matter by dismissing the petition summarily"

Refuting the arguments of the petitioner as "misconceived" and praying for dismissal of the petition with costs, the Centre said in its affidavit that the plot in question has never been opened to the public and is currently being used as Government Offices of the Ministry of Defence for almost 90 years now and no recreational activity (neighbourhood play area) exists as per actual ground conditions in the plot.

The Centre also said that it has earmarked more areas for public recreational use in the new plan for Central Vista area, over and above the existing plots.

Case Title : Rajeev Suri versus Union of India| W.P.(C) No. 1378/2020

Click Here To Read/Download Order




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