Judgment on Plea to Pause Construction of Central Vista Held up by Delhi High Court

Central vista project Law InsiderCentral vista project Law Insider

Lekha G

The Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh of the Delhi High Court reserved its judgment on plea to halt the construction of Central Vista redevelopment project in view of Covid- 19 pandemic.

Senior Advocate Sidharth Luthra, representing the petitioners contended that the issue was how the construction activity be considered as essential service at time of a pandemic.

Luthra said that the petition was filed because “We were afraid that their dereliction was going to lead to an Auschwitz on the gardens of Delhi”. He further pointed out that neither Covid-19 facilities or Covid protocols were maintained at the worksite.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing for the Centre, described the PIL as a “Façade to disguise something they always wanted to stop under one pretext or the other”.

Mehta also contradicted the claims of the petitioner regarding Covid facilities at worksite and objected likening the project to Auschwitz Concentration Camp in Europe.

Further, Senior Counsel Maninder Singh argued that, “They are sensationalizing by saying ‘this (Central Vista) has become Corona hub and people are dying’. Once petitioner came to know the workers are staying on site and not being transported, they should have withdrawn the petition, but they have not”.

The Court reserved its judgment hearing the contentions of both the parties.

The redevelopment project in the Central Vista area of Lutyens Delhi envisages a new parliament house, a new residential complex that will house the Prime Minister and the President, as well as several new office buildings and a Central Secretariat to accommodate Ministry offices.

The Petitioners namely Anya Malhotra and Sohail Hashmi had sought stay on the construction activities of the project citing Covid-19 situation in the capital.

The Petition stated, “In the current dismal scenario, this Project has no feature of “essentiality” for and/or of “service” to the public at large. In the absence of provision of on-site accommodation in this Project the impugned acts are totally contrary too and in gross violation of the Orders issued in the public interest by the Delhi Disaster Management Authority”.

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