New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday slammed the Centre for going ahead with its Central Vista project despite a pending case before it, but allowed the foundation laying of a new Parliament building by the Prime Minister on December 10, after an assurance by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta that no construction, nor demolition work, would be undertaken till the case is decided.
"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, nor construction, nor felling of the trees," said Justice A M Khanwilkar who is heading the 3-judge Bench.
The Bench, which also comprised Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna, took up the case suo motu, taking exception to the government initiating the construction activity. "We have listed this matter because of certain developments we came across in public domain.We never thought you will go ahead so aggressively with construction. The fact that there is no stay does not mean you can go ahead with everything," the court told Mehta when the matter came up for hearing.
WORK IN FULL SWING: Notwithstanding the solicitor general's assurance, demolition as well as construction work is already in progress in the Parliament House complex, a part of the Central Vista, for the past many days. Mehta sought a day's time to take instructions in the matter, but the court insisted on the Centre's instructions being conveyed in five minutes and adjourned the matter until then.
It passed the order stopping all activity after the Solicitor General assured that the government will not start any construction or demolition work at the site or carry out any tree translocation.
The court, however, allowed the Centre to carry out paperwork and hold the foundation stone laying ceremony. It said the authorities will be free to undertake other formal processes without altering the site in any manner.
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. The government's plan is to demolish all buildings that house various ministries, including the Jawahar Bhawn built less than two years ago, and house them all in nine buildings to be constructed on both sides of the Rajpath.
The petitioners before the Supreme Court have challenged a notification issued by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) on December 21, 2019, on changes in land use for the redevelopment. The Court had reserved its ruling on November 5.