Centre refutes NGO's claim of 'bench avoidance' in Chardham project case

New Delhi: The Centre on Thursday strongly refuted in the Supreme Court the claims of an NGO that government is engaged in "bench avoidance" in a matter related to widening of the ambitious Chardham highway project.

The strategic 900-km Chardham highway project aims to provide all-weather connectivity to four holy towns -- Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath -- in Uttarakhand.

The claims that government is engaged in "bench avoidance" was raised by the NGO in the written submissions given by it in the matter.

A vacation bench of Justices Vineet Saran and Dinesh Maheswari, while taking note of the arguments of Attorney General K K Venugopal, said that it has not asked the NGO to file any written submissions on the issue and instead has only asked the parties to place before it relevant orders passed in the matter.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, also appearing in the matter, said that this court should also examine what is the source of inspiration of the NGO to make such allegations as the matter pertains to construction of strategic border roads on the China border.

The top court directed that matter be placed before the Chief Justice N V Ramana for earmarking it to an appropriate bench for hearing on May 18.

The vacation bench, which heard the matter on Thursday will not be sitting in the same combination next week.

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