The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a petition challenging the proposed change in land use in some areas for the Central Vista project in Delhi, Live Law reported. The court said that it could not interfere in the matter unless the petitioner could prove the bad intention behind the decision.
The Central Vista project entails redeveloping a stretch at the heart of Lutyens Delhi. Of the Rs 20,000-crore sanctioned for the project, Rs 971 crore will be spent on a new Parliament building, and Rs 13,450 crore on new residences for the prime minister and the vice president.
The petitioner, social activist Rajeev Suri, had argued in the the court that the government proposed to change land use in plot one of the Central Vista area from “recreational” to “residential”. The area that was being reserved for recreational purposes will now have residences of the vice president and the prime minister.
The petitioner said that it will result in loss of recreational and green areas. He had said that the project would take over a children’s recreational park and bus terminal.
The bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and CT Ravikumar said that the authorities could change plans for the development of the area, NDTV reported.
“It is not [a] private property being created there,” Khanwilkar said. “The vice president’s residence is being created. There is bound to be greenery around. The plan has already been approved by authorities unless you are alleging malafide in that process.”
The court also asked if a common man will now have to be asked where the residence of the vice president should be constructed.
The court further observed that the petitioner’s argument of preserving the recreational area could not be the scope of judicial review, according to Live Law. “It is for the authority concerned and is a matter of public policy,” the court said.
In October, the Centre had urged the Supreme Court to dismiss Suri’s “misconceived” petition challenging land use in the Central Vista project. The government had said that the plot – which will now be a residential zone – had never been opened to the public.
In May, a petition against the Central Vista Project had been filed in the Delhi High Court also. The petitioners had argued that the project was not an essential activity and could be put on hold amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Opposition leaders had also urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to suspend work on the Central Vista project in May, when the second wave of coronavirus was raging in India. They wanted the funds to be diverted towards buying oxygen and vaccines that were not sufficiently available at that time.
But in June, the court dismissed the petition, saying that Central Vista was an “essential project of national importance”. The court described the plea as “motivated” and fined the petitioners Rs 1 lakh.