High Court also disallows changes in Chandni Chowk redevelopment plan

The Delhi High Court on Friday set aside two decisions – one taken by the Delhi Lieutenant-Governor and the other by the Public Works Department under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit. These changes pertained to not allowing plying of cycle-rickshaws on the carriageways of arterial roads in Delhi and changes in the Chandni Chowk redevelopment plan in the Walled City respectively.

The decision on banning cycle-rickshaws on arterial roads had been taken at the 40 meeting of the Governing Body of the United Traffic and Transportation Infrastructure (Planning and Engineering) Centre (UTTIPEC).

Quashing the decision, a Division Bench of Justice S. Ravindra Bhat and Justice S. Muralidhar said: “…the Court sets aside the decision of the L-G taken at the meeting of the United Traffic and Transportation Infrastructure (Planning & Engineering) Centre UTTIPEC held on November 21, 2012, to the extent it disallows plying of cycle-rickshaws on the carriageways of arterial roads.”

“There cannot be such a blanket prohibition till such time separate non-motorised vehicles lanes for cycle- rickshaws are provided on the carriageways of arterial roads. In other words, the prohibition on plying of cycle-rickshaws on the carriageway of an arterial road would be justified only if it is simultaneous with the creation of lanes on such arterial road. Also, for such a decision to be taken the matter will have to be first placed before the UTTIPEC,” the Bench said.

“The decision not to allow rickshaws to ply on carriageways of arterial roads appears to have been taken unilaterally by the L-G without referring the issue back to the UTTIPEC. This decision, apart from not respecting the democratised process put in place through the UTTIPEC (headed by the L-G himself) is also at variance with the decision of the Special Task Force on Delhi traffic constituted by the Court,” the Bench said.

“Also, such a decision has the potential of being interpreted as approving a ban on plying of cycle-rickshaws on arterial roads that do not have a separate non-motorised vehicle lane. This is not consistent with the Master Plan for Delhi-2021 provisions that urge the creation of equitable spaces for non-motorised vehicle lanes on roads,” the Bench stated.

“The decision taken by the L-G also does not consider the possibilities demonstrated by the Street Design Guidelines of providing non-motorised vehicles lanes on arterial roads on which rickshaws can ply. The Court finds the above decision unsustainable as it overlooks the decision making process put in place through the UTTIPEC and the Special Task Force,” the Bench added.

Quashing the other decision, the Bench said: “It is surprising that the plans approved at the meetings of the Special Task Force and UTTIPEC should now be reversed at a meeting of the PWD.”

“As in the case of non-motorised vehicle lanes, here again a decision arrived at through a democratic

process is sought to be set at nought by a unilateral decision at a different level of decision-making. This sets at nought the very purpose of having a consultative and participative decision-making process involving all interest groups,” the Bench stated.

“The Court, therefore, does not permit the PWD to change the redevelopment plan for Chandni Chowk approved by UTTIPEC unless the said suggestion by the PWD is again placed before the UTTIPEC and the Special Task Force for approval,” the Bench stated.

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