New Delhi [India], May 29 (ANI): The Delhi High Court will pronounce its judgement on Monday (May 31) on a plea that sought direction to halt ongoing Central Vista construction in the national capital in view of COVID-19.
The Division Bench, headed by Chief Justice of Delhi Dhirubhai Naranbhai Patel, kept the order reserved after the conclusion of the argument of lawyers of all sides.
The court was hearing a plea seeking direction to halt/suspend all construction activities of the Central Vista Avenue Redevelopment Project in compliance with orders issued by the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) during the subsistence of the peak phase of the pandemic.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing for the Union of India (UOI) had opposed the plea and pointed out that the present petition is only concerned with Central Vista and not about other constructions.
Mehta argued that here, the public interest is "very selective" in particular regarding the Central Vista project matter. He said, "The petitioner is not concerned about other workmen and other construction works that are going on maybe 2-3 km away from there."
"There is something unusual, and beyond what is portrayed as public interest. This is a facade of PIL to disguise something they always wanted to stop under one pretext or the other," Mehta said.
In its reply, the concerned Ministry of Union had called the plea "sheer abuse of the process of law and is one more attempt to stall the project" and urged the High Court to dismiss the petition with exemplary costs on the ground that it is an abuse of the process of law.
"Such attempts are going on since the inception of the project under one pretext or the other and in one name or the other. The following facts will satisfy this Court that the petitioner has, while taking refuge under the present situation, made an attempt to stall the project under the garb of 'public interest'," the Centre said in its affidavit.
Senior advocate Siddharth Luthra, who appeared for petitioner, had shown various DDMA orders and submitted that Central Vista should not be called as it is so, it shall now be called "Central Fortress of Death". He questioned if the deadline of November 30 this year is so sacrosanct then all of Article 19 and 21 should be thrown away.
On May 7, the Supreme Court urged the Delhi High Court to consider the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by petitioner Anya Malhotra seeking a stay on construction work of the Central Vista project in New Delhi amid the prevailing condition of Covid-19 cases across the country and asked High Court to issue orders related to the matter.
In December last year, the Central Vista Development project was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The project intends to revamp 86 acres of land in Delhi, which includes Rajpath, Parliament House, Rashtrapati Bhavan, India Gate, North Block and South Block, Shastri Bhavan and Udyog Bhavan.
The project envisages the construction of a new Parliament building, a common secretariat for central government offices, the Prime Minister's office and residence, the Special Protection Group building and the Vice-President Enclave. The construction work for the project, which is currently underway, started on January 5 this year, after the top court dismissed petitions challenging the project. (ANI)