HC reserves order on Central Vista plea

Work on Central Vista redevelopment project in progress at Rajpath in New Delhi on Monday.   | Photo Credit: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

The Delhi High Court on Monday reserved its verdict on a petition seeking to halt the construction activities related to the Central Vista Project in view of the recent surge in COVID-19 cases in the Capital.

A Bench of Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh reserved its verdict after hearing both sides for over three hours.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, opposed the plea saying that the plea was a “facade” and a “disguise” in the form of a public interest litigation (PIL) to stall the project which they always wanted to stop.

The Solicitor General said the public interest question raised by the petitioner in the case was “very selective”. He said the petitioners do not seem to care about the workmen of other construction activities going on the city.

Senior advocate Sidharth Luthra, appearing for the petitioners, argued that his clients were only delivering a message of health and safety for the people of Delhi and if the government cannot see it, then it was a “sorry reflection” of their concerns for the lives of the citizens.

Mr. Luthra referred to the ongoing project work as not Central Vista, rather “central fortress of death”, comparing it to “Auschwitz”, a German concentration camp during World War-II.

Solicitor General Mehta was displeased with the project being referred to as Auschwitz, saying one can criticise and be venomous about it, but such terms should not be used in court.

Shapoorji Pallonji and Company Pvt Ltd, which has been awarded the tender for the project, also opposed the plea, saying it lacks bona fide and the company was taking care of its workforce.

The company's counsel argued that the petitioners cannot decide what was the safe timeline for completing the project as it had to finish it by November so that the Republic Day parade can be held on the Rajpath.

The company also said that half of Rajpath has been dug up and if the work is stalled then the pits would be filled during the monsoon, which could lead to collapse of adjacent areas and also creation of a breeding ground for vector-borne diseases.

The High Court was hearing plea by Anya Malhotra, who works as a translator, and Sohail Hashmi, a historian and documentary filmmaker, who have argued that the Central Vista project was not an essential activity and hence, it can be put on hold for now during the pandemic.

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Printable version | Jun 24, 2021 1:37:08 PM |

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