THE Supreme Court on Thursday refused to stay the Central Vista redevelopment project which seeks to build a new parliament and other central government offices in “Lutyens” zone in central Delhi.
A bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) S.A. Bobde said, “In COVID-19 times no one is going to do anything. There is no urgency.” On the hand, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Central Government, said, “A new parliament is being constructed. Why should anyone have a problem?”
The Court, however, allowed the request of the petitioner to withdraw his petition with a liberty to amend the already pending petition on the identical issue, which has been transferred, to the apex court from the Delhi High Court,
According to the petitioner Rajeev Suri, the use of land for the Central Vista project, covering 86 acre in ‘Lutyens’ zone is a “brash move” and will deprive people enjoying open and green spaces.
The petition argued that the government’s notification on March 20, which supersedes a public notice issued by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) on December 19, 2019, is the subjugation of Rule of Law and judicial protocol as the 2019 notice is under challenge and being heard by the Supreme Court itself.
On March 20, the Central Government had approved the land-use change as required for the Central Vista Development/Redevelopment project on the recommendations of Delhi Development Authority (DDA). This paved the way for the construction of new Parliament building and other projects in the prestigious Central Vista project.
On April 10, Congress president Sonia Gandhi wrote a letter to the Prime Minister urging him to suspend the Rs 20,000 crore allocated to Central Vista project.
“At a time like this, such an outlay seems self-indulgent to say the least. I am certain that Parliament can function comfortably within the existing historical buildings. There is no urgent or pressing requirement that cannot be postponed until this crisis is contained,” she wrote.
According to the government “The Central Vista of New Delhi houses Rashtrapati Bhawan, Parliament House, North and South Block, India Gate, National Archives etc. All these iconic buildings were constructed before 1931, the year in which the new capital was inaugurated. The other office buildings were built on various plots subsequently to address the office requirements of Central Ministries and Departments in an unplanned manner. Parliament House building came up in 1927 and is declared Heritage building. Its facilities and infrastructure are inadequate to meet the current demand. Therefore, there is an imperative need to construct a new state-of-art Parliament building in close vicinity. This proposal may address not only the space requirement but may result in an iconic structure as a symbol of democracy”.
The objectives of the Project, according to government, include upgrading Parliament’s space and facilities; consolidating, rationalizing and synergizing government functioning; refurbishing and better equipping the Central Vista Avenue; strengthening cultural institutions in the Central Vista.
Read Order here: