Consent, dissent: In a 2:1 verdict, here is what SC said on Central Vista Project
New Delhi, Jan 05: In a 2:1 verdict, the Supreme Court today ruled in favour of the Central Vista Project.
The court held that the exercise of power under the Delhi Development Authority Act was just and valid.
The grant of environmental clearances by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change was also proper and valid the Bench comprising, Justices A M Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna said.
Selection and appointment of environmental consultant in the case is held to be just and proper.
Modifications regarding change in land use stand confirmed, Justice Khanwilkar said while reading out the majority verdict on behalf of himself and Justice Maheshwari.
Justice Khanna who wrote the dissenting verdict said, despite nationwide lockdown and objections, NOC was given to the project by the Central Vista Committee by way of a meeting held via video conferencing and without giving any reasons. The meeting was headed by ADG Works who has experienced only in road maintenance.
I have agreed with brother judge, Justice Khanwilkar on notice inviting bid and award of the project.
However on the question of grant of land use, I have a different opinion. I have held that the same was bad in law. There was no prior approval of the Heritage Conservation Committee and thus the matter is remitted back for public hearing. On the environmental clearance aspect, it was a non speaking order, Justice Khanna said.
On December 7, last year the court had allowed the Centre to proceed with the foundation stone-laying ceremony for the Central Vista project on December 10 after the government assured it that no construction or demolition work would commence till the court decides the pending pleas on the issue.
The Centre had told the bench that there would be only foundation stone-laying ceremony, and no construction, demolition or felling of trees would be done for the project as of now.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had laid the foundation stone on December 10, last year, for the new Parliament building and the construction is expected to be completed by 2022 at an estimated cost of Rs 971 crore, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla had said on December 5, last year.
The SC had earlier said that any change at the ground level made by authorities for the Central Vista project will be "at their own risk".
It had made it clear that the fate of the project, which includes several new government buildings and a new Parliament House, will depend on its decision.
On November 5, the court had reserved its verdict on a batch of pleas which have raised questions over the Centre's ambitious Central Vista project, which covers three km stretch from Rashtrapati Bhavan to India Gate in Lutyens' Delhi.