New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday trashed a plea by an engineer settled in Singapore, challenging the change in land use of a plot, where the new official residences of the vice-president and the prime minister are to come up as part of the Central Vista project.
The court reasoned that the change in land use was a matter of policy and no mala fide intent was shown by the petitioners. Therefore, the court is not inclined to interfere.
In his petition, social activist Rajeev Suri had said that land use in some areas was changed from "public recreational" to "residential" for the project. He argued that it would affect the area currently meant for public recreation.
The Bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and CT Ravikumar ruled: "Petitioner has not argued that the change in land use has been done in a malafide manner. It petitioner has instead contended that since in the past it was recreational area it should have been retained like that. This cannot be scope of judicial review. It is the for the authority concerned and is a matter of public policy."
''A private property is not being created. The Vice President's residence is being created. There is bound to be greenery around. The plan has already been approved by authorities,'' Justice AM Khanwilkar said during the hearing. "Will we start asking the common man now where the residence of the Vice President be loacted?" he further asked
The project involves a makeover of a 3.2-km stretch in the heart of Delhi - designed by the British before Independence - at the cost of ₹ 20,000 crore.
The Central Vista is the most cherished open space in New Delhi and perhaps India; it is a symbol of nationhood, and the public character of this cherished open space is being compromised which is a great betrayal of the Public Trust Doctrine," the petition said.
Suri had earlier challenged the public notice of March 4, 2020, which was disposed of on August 28, 2020, stating that the final decision has not been taken yet and the petitioner can approach the court as and when the final decision is taken.
He had also challenged the Central Vista project in 2020 before the Delhi High Court. The Supreme Court transferred the matter to itself and dismissed it by a majority of 2:1, paving the way for full fledged construction of the project.