Central Vista: SC raps govt for ‘aggressive approach’, but allows laying of foundation stone by Modi on Dec 10

The clarification was made by the top court after it listed the case for hearing suo motu taking exception to the government’s plan to begin construction activities

Supreme Court of India (Photo Courtesy: IANS)
Supreme Court of India (Photo Courtesy: IANS)

NH Web Desk

The Supreme Court on Monday clarified that the Central government cannot carry out any construction or demolition activities as part of the Central Vista redevelopment project till the court pronounces its judgment in the petitions challenging the project, even as it gave a go-ahead to the government for the foundation stone laying ceremony.

An order to this effect was passed by a three-judge Bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna, after the Central government through Solicitor General Tushar Mehta undertook that no construction, demolition or felling of trees will be carried out till the court decides the case one way or the other, Bar & Bench reported.

The clarification was made by the top court after it listed the case for hearing suo motu taking exception to the government's plan to begin construction activities.

Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla had on Saturday announced that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will lay the foundation stone and perform “Bhoomi Pujan” for the new Parliament building on December 10, as per ANI, said a report on The Scroll carried on Sunday. He extended a formal invitation to Modi for the foundation stone-laying ceremony in his capacity as the custodian of the Parliament building,.

“We started the journey of independent India in the old building, and when we complete 75 years, we will have the session of both Houses in the new Parliament building,” Birla told reporters. “It will not be a building of bricks and stones, it will be the fulfilment of the dreams of 130 crore people,” he added.

In the hearing on Monday, the SC told Mehta: "We thought we are dealing with a prudent litigant and that deference will be shown. We never thought you will go ahead so aggressively with construction. We don't mind if you do paperwork, or lay foundation stone but no construction should be done."

The petitioners before the Supreme Court have challenged a notification issued by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) on December 21, 2019 regarding changes in land use for the redevelopment.

During the hearing of the matter in the first week of November, the Central government had defended the project claiming that construction of a new Parliament building and Central Secretariat has become an absolute necessity due to the stress on the present ones.

SG Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, had said on November 3 that the current Parliament building, which was opened in 1927, does not adhere to fire safety norms, has a serious space crunch, and is not earthquake-proof.

Once there is an increase in the number of seats of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha after the fresh census to be conducted next year, the building will be under stress, Mehta added. He had also cited security concerns, highlighting the 2001 Parliament attack.

Regarding construction of new Central Secretariat, the Centre underscored the need to bring all important ministry offices under one single building.

It was also the government's argument that all necessary statutory approvals including environmental clearances were in place and the project cannot be scrapped merely because the petitioners felt a better process or method could have been adopted.

The Central Vista area in Lutyen’s Delhi houses iconic buildings like the Parliament House, Rashtrapati Bhavan, the North and South Block buildings and the India Gate.

Some Twitter users took to the micro-blogging platform to express consternation at the development:

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Published: 07 Dec 2020, 12:31 PM