The Supreme Court on 07th December 2020 allowed the Centre to go ahead with the proposed foundation stone laying ceremony for the Central Vista project after the government assured it that no construction or demolition work would be done till the apex court decides the pending pleas on the issue.
The Gujarat-based architecture firm, HCP Design, Planning and Management Private Limited, has won the consultancy bid for the ambitious project to redevelop the Central Vista to construct a common central secretariat complex and a new Parliament building. Earlier, activist Rajeev Suri and other petitoners have challenged various permissions given to the project by the authorities, including the nod for change of land use. They have questioned the project over environmental clearance granted to the project and the historical value of the existing building.
The Supreme Court, on 5th November 2020 had reserved its verdict on PILs challenging various permissions given by authorities for the redevelopment of Central Vista in Lutyens’ Delhi, specially assembled after coming to know that the government was going ahead with the project without waiting for its verdict. It may be noted that the 'bhumi pujan'
ceremony for the new Parliament building has been scheduled on 10th December 2020. The Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, will lay the foundation for the new building. The Supreme Court while passing order on 7th December 2020 expressed its displeasure over the Centre going ahead with the Central Vista Redevelopment Project without waiting for its verdict. A Bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar gave the concession after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta undertook on behalf of the Centre that no construction, demolition or felling of trees will take place until the matter was finally adjudicated upon. “It should not be a fait accompli presented to the court. Stop at the foundation laying ceremony. Some deference must be shown to the Court,” said the Bench, which clarified that the government could proceed with paperwork relating to the project. The bench further said that “Just because there is no stay, it does not mean that you (Centre) can go ahead with everything,” The bench told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta: “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.” As the court expressed its displeasure, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta took time out from the court to seek instructions. He came back in five minutes; apologised to the court and gave an undertaking about not effecting any physical changes at the site. Last month, Mehta had contended that “courts cannot strike down policy decisions merely because it feels a better policy decision could have been taken”. The Central Vista redevelopment plan, which aims to free up the 75-acre land in the heart of the capital, involves the demolition of around 10 buildings, including the Shastri Bhawan, the Udyog Bhawan, the Krishi Bhawan, the Vigyan Bhawan, the Vice President’s House and the Lok Nayak Bhawan. Announced in September last year, it envisages a new triangular Parliament building, with seating capacity for 1,224 MPs, expected to be constructed by August 2022 when the country will be celebrating its 75th Independence Day. The common Central Secretariat is likely to be built by 2024. [READ ORDER]