Describing the Central Vista project as "vital and essential," the Delhi High Court on Monday, May 31, allowed construction work on the project to continue and imposed a fine of Rs 1 lakh on the petitioners for their "motivated" plea. The court said the legality of the project was already upheld by the Supreme Court. The court said it sees “no reason to stop the work,” and added that even the Delhi Disaster Management Authority allowed it to continue and that workers were already present at the site.
A bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh dismissed the plea seeking to halt the project during the coronavirus pandemic, saying the petition was "motivated" and "not a genuine PIL." It imposed a cost of Rs 1 lakh on the petitioners.
The court said under the contract awarded to the Shapoorji Pallonji Group, work had to be completed by November 2021 and, therefore, it should be allowed to continue. The plea for halting the work was moved by Anya Malhotra, a translator, and Sohail Hashmi, a historian and documentary filmmaker. The two had contended in their PIL that the project was not an essential activity and can be put on hold for time being.
The court had reserved its judgement on May 17 on the joint plea by Anya Malhotra, a translator, and Sohail Hashmi, a historian and documentary filmmaker. The two had contended in their plea that the project was not an essential activity and can be put on hold for time being.
During the May 17 hearing, the Centre had termed the plea as a "facade" or a "disguise", aimed at stalling the project.
The petitioners on the other hand had contended they were only interested in the safety of workers at the site and citizens living in the area. The petitioners' counsel had likened the project to "Auschwitz", a German concentration camp during World War II.
The project entails construction activities on Rajpath and the surrounding lawns from the India Gate to the Rashtrapati Bhawan, according to the petition, filed through advocates Gautam Khazanchi and Pradyuman Kaistha.
The project envisages building a new Parliament House, a new residential complex to house offices and the prime minister and the vice president. It will also have new office buildings and a Central Secretariat to accommodate various ministries 'offices.