The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Centre not to undertake any construction or demolition for the Central Vista Project after Prime Minister Narendra Modi lays the foundation stone for the new Parliament building on December 10, Live Law reported.
The court also rebuked the government for “moving forward aggressively” on the project even before a decision was given on the petitions challenging it.
A bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar heard a petition against the Centre’s Central Vista project and the government’s proposal to construct a new Parliament in Lutyens Delhi.
“You can lay the foundation stone, you can carry on paperwork but no construction or demolition, no cutting down any trees,” the Supreme Court told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta. “We have shown deference to you and expected that you will act in a prudent manner. The same deference should be shown to the [Supreme] Court and there should be no demolition or construction.”
Mehta accepted the court’s directive on behalf of the central government. “I can make a statement that there will be no construction, demolition or felling of trees,” he said. “Foundation stone will be laid. But, no physical change.”
Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Saturday announced that Modi will lay the foundation stone and perform “Bhoomi Pujan” for the new Parliament building on December 10. The Speaker, who is the custodian of the Parliament building, extended a formal invitation to Modi for the ceremony.
“We started the journey of independent India in the old building, and when we complete 75 years, we will have the session of both Houses in the new Parliament building,” Birla had told reporters. “It will not be a building of bricks and stones, it will be the fulfilment of the dreams of 130 crore people.”
Birla had said that the building will have sitting capacity for 1,224 MPs, for joint sessions, while a new office complex for all MPs of both the Houses would be built at the site of the existing Shram Shakti Bhawan. The existing Parliament building, the Speaker said, will be conserved as an archaeological asset of the country.
In September, Tata Projects Limited won the bid to construct the new Parliament building. The construction is part of the Central Vista project, an iconic three-km stretch in the heart of New Delhi that runs from the Rashtrapati Bhavan to India Gate. Flanked by large green spaces and containing significant structures such as Parliament, the Secretariat buildings and the National Archives, it is recognised around the world as a striking example of innovative urban planning and architecture.
The project has been challenged in the Supreme Court while the Opposition, too, have raised questions. The government has justified its decision to build a new Parliament building, saying that the current one was “showing signs of distress and over-use”.