On Wednesday, June 2, a plea was filed in the Supreme Court, challenging the Delhi High Court's May 31 verdict which dismissed a petition seeking to suspend all construction activity of the Central Vista Avenue redevelopment during the COVID-19 pandemic. The High Court had described it as a “vital and essential project of national importance”. The redevelopment project entails construction activities on Rajpath and the surrounding lawns from the India Gate to the Rashtrapati Bhawan in Delhi. The main Central Vista project involves building a new Parliament House and a new residential complex to house the Prime Minister and Vice President. It will also have new office buildings and a Central Secretariat to accommodate various ministries 'offices.
The Delhi High Court on Monday, May 31, had dismissed the plea saying it was "motivated" and filed with "ill-intent" and "lack of bona fides". It had also imposed a cost of Rs 1 lakh on the petitioners, who wanted the work to be halted in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, observing that it was "not a genuine public interest litigation". Advocate Pradeep Kumar Yadav on Wednesday filed a petition in the apex court, challenging the HC’s verdict. Yadav, who was not a party to the proceedings before the HC in the matter, has claimed that the High Court was not justified in holding that the plea was motivated and not a genuine public cause, by drawing presumption and assumption in the absence of proved material facts and evidence.
The petition alleged that the HC failed to appreciate that allowing a big construction work with large number of labourers and workers to continue during the pandemic period, is a serious public health issue concern. It said the HC was not justified in holding that the construction activities for the Central Vista project are essential activities, especially when the entire activities of the service and industrial sectors, and the activities of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) are fully suspended during the lockdown period .
In its verdict, the HC had said, "The present petition has been filed to stop with immediate effect the work of the redevelopment of Central Vista Avenue. This work is part and parcel of the Central Vista project and is of vital public importance. The construction of the Central Vista Avenue redevelopment project cannot be seen in isolation. In fact, the whole Central Vista project is an essential project of national importance, where the sovereign functions of Parliament are also to be conducted. Public is vitally interested in this project," it had said.
It also said that the legality of the project was already upheld by the Supreme Court, and even the Delhi Disaster Management Authority allowed it to continue. It added that, from the affidavits filed by the Union government and the contractor -- Shapoorji Pallonji and Company Pvt Ltd (SPCPL) -- it was "clearly evident" that several facilities, like accommodation, medical facilities and COVID care centre, have been provided to the workers at the site.