The Supreme Court has dismissed a petition seeking a stay on the construction work underway for the Central Vista project in New Delhi as the matter is pending with the Delhi High Court.
The petitioner had sought suspension of all kinds of construction activity in relation to the Central Vista Redevelopment Project in compliance of the orders issued by DDMA in the wake of the Covid-19 surge in Delhi.
While the DDMA order had stayed all construction work in the national capital, the work on the Central Vista project was allowed after special permission. The work on the project has been categorised as ‘essential’.
“How can construction be an essential activity? In a health emergency, we cannot risk the lives of workers and their families and put more pressure on the healthcare system,” Senior Advocate Siddharth Luthra, appearing for the petitioner, told the apex court.
Luthra argued that Delhi was suffering from a broken health system and, at such a time, people working on the Central Vista project were being asked to step out of their homes. “I am told workers are coming from Kirti Nagar, Sarai Kale Khan,” the advocate said.
Luthra mentioned that while construction work was currently underway at eight different sites, the petition pertained to construction underway at Rajpath, Central Vista stretch and the gardens.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta objected to the petition, terming it adversarial, as the matter was pending in the Delhi High Court.
The petitioner had filed the same plea in the HC, which kept the next hearing on May 17. However, Luthra pointed out that the matter was of urgent concern as the expert expected the Covid-19 pandemic to peak in mid-May.
The SC bench of Justices Vineet Saran and Dinesh Maheshwari dismissed the petition saying that the HC was seized of the matter. However, the bench added, that the petitioner can approach the HC and request an urgent hearing on Monday.
“We are of opinion that since the matter is pending before HC and the order challenged in this SLP [special leave petition] is only an adjournment, we would not be inclined to enter into the merits of the case. In given circumstances, we request Mr Luthra to file it himself or through any other counsel, to make a request before the chief justice of HC on Monday to take up the matter as early as possible,” the bench said.
“We hope and trust that the high court shall consider the prayer for an early hearing,” it said.
The Centre’s redevelopment project in the Central Vista area of Lutyens Delhi envisages a new Parliament House, a new residential complex that will house the Prime Minister and the Vice-President, as well as several new office buildings and a Central Secretariat to accommodate Ministry offices.
A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court had, on January 5, given its green signal to the project, rejecting a batch of petitions challenging the scheme for alleged violation of land use and environmental norms.