Tribune News Service
New Delhi, June 12
Terming the Rs 1 lakh cost imposed by the Delhi High Court as “exorbitant”, petitioners Anya Malhotra and Sohail Hashmi have moved the Supreme Court challenging the lower court’s decision refusing to halt construction work on the Central Vista project in the national capital.
“The impugned judgment, especially the imposition of exorbitant costs, has a chilling effect on public spirited individuals raising genuine issues of public health and on the right of citizens to question the actions of the government and to hold it to account, which it is submitted is the bedrock of democracy,” they submitted.
Describing the Central Vista project as “vital and essential”, a Bench headed by Delhi High Court Chief Justice DN Patel had on May 31 imposed a fine of Rs 1 lakh on the petitioners for wasting its time by filing a “motivated” petition.
The legality of the project had already been upheld by the Supreme Court and the Delhi Disaster Management Authority also allowed the work to continue, the high court had said, adding the workers were already present at the site and, therefore, “we see no reason to stop the work”.
The petitioners said they were aggrieved by the “unsubstantiated” findings and adverse observations, particularly the comment that their petition was motivated, ill-intended and lacked bona fides.
Earlier, advocate Pradeep Kumar Yadav—who was not a party to the case -- had moved the Supreme Court challenging the high court’s order, terming it a “matter of serious public health concern”. Yadav contended that the high court was not justified in holding the Central Vista redevelopment project as an “essential activity”.
The Central Vista redevelopment plan – which aims to free up 75 acre land in the heart of the capital – involves demolition of around 10 buildings, including Shastri Bhawan, Udyog Bhawan, Krishi Bhawan, Vigyan Bhawan, Vice-President’s House and Lok Nayak Bhawan.
Announced in September last year, it envisages a new triangular Parliament building, with seating capacity for more than 1,200 MPs, expected to be constructed by August, 2022 when the country will be celebrating its 75th Independence Day. The common Central Secretariat is likely to be built by 2024.
Refusing to set aside the clearances given to the Central Vista Redevelopment Project, the Supreme Court on January 5 said it can’t venture into policy matters and areas reserved for the Executive without any legal basis.
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