Supreme Court clears Central Vista Project | UPSC

Supreme Court clears Central Vista Project | UPSC

      HEADLINES:

How Supreme Court cleared New Delhi’s central vista project

      WHY IN NEWS:

The Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed the central vista project to go ahead.

SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 2: 3 : Parliament :  Infrastructure

      ISSUE: 

The Supreme Court on Tuesday gave its nod to the central vista redevelopment project in a 2:1 verdict. 

THE CENTRAL VISTA PROJECT

  • The project aims to renovate and redevelop 86 acres of land in Lutyens’s Delhi.

The landmark structures of the Indian government, including Parliament House, Rashtrapati Bhavan, India Gate, North Block and South Block, etc. stand

  • A Bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna pronounced the 2-1 judgment.
  • Justice Khanwilkar and Justice Maheshwari forming the majority. Justice Khanna pronounced a separate judgment.

LITIGATION OVER THE PROJECT

  • A petition was filed in the Supreme Court in April 2020, challenging the Centre’s change-of-land-use notification of March 2020 with regard to the 86 acres of land.

The petitioner submitted that the order violated the citizen’s Right to Life guaranteed under Article 21 by depriving people of open and green spaces
 

  • The petition also argued that the notification violated the Master Plan of Delhi 2021.
  • The Centre’s notification sought to override an earlier (December 2019) notice issued by the Delhi Development Authority inviting objections against the proposed changes in land use.
  • Subsequently, the court heard the challenge on three main grounds: change of land use; violations of municipal law; and violations of environmental law.

Supreme Court clears Central Vista Project | UPSC

SOURCES : THE HINDU | Supreme Court clears Central Vista Project | UPSC

  • During final hearings in October and November 2020, several top lawyers appeared in the case.
  • The court reserved its judgment on November 5.
  • A model of the new Parliament building which is estimated to cost Rs 971 crore
  • The groundbreaking ceremony for the new Parliament building was held on December 10.
  • Prime Minister laid the foundation stone for a new, triangular Parliament building, with the capacity to seat between 900 and 1,200 MPs.

The building is expected to be constructed by August 2022 when the nation will be celebrating its 75th Independence Day

  • The Supreme Court had allowed the ceremony to go on after the government assured it that no construction or demolition work or felling of trees would commence until the pending case was decided.

HISTORY OF LUTYENS’S DELHI

  • At his coronation as Emperor of India on December 12, 1911, Britain’s King George V had announced, “We have decided upon the transfer of the seat of the Government of India from Calcutta to the ancient Capital of Delhi.”

Thereafter, a 20-year-long project to build modern New Delhi was spearheaded by architects Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker

  • They built Parliament House, Rashtrapati Bhavan, North and South Blocks, Rajpath, India Gate, National Archives and the princes’ houses around India Gate.
  • New Delhi was unveiled in 1931.

WHAT WAS UNDER CHALLENGE?

  • Broadly, it was the change in land use, and the manner and procedure adopted for making the changes in the central vista precincts.

The petitioners argued that there were irregularities in the process that involved the approval of the design

  • Also in clearance on monetary allocations, and the tendering processes, other regulatory clearances on environment and from local municipal bodies.

WHAT HAS THE COURT HELD?

In a 2:1 majority verdict, the court has held that there are no infirmities in the approvals granted

  • Justices A M Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari held that the central government’s change of land use for the project in the Master Plan of Delhi 2021 is also a lawful exercise of its powers.

WHAT DID THE PETITIONERS ARGUE?

The petition focused on the following aspects of the matters:

  • ‘NO OBJECTION’ BY THE CENTRAL VISTA COMMITTEE (CVC) : The petitioners had challenged the composition of the CVCand, therefore, all the approvals granted by the body.

They argued that the CVC was set up to rush the approvals, and that the officials who were proponents of the central vista project were also entrusted with the CVC and there was an apparent conflict of interest

  • “APPROVAL” BY THE DELHI URBAN ART COMMISSION (DUAC) : As per the DUAC Act, 1973, the petitioners had argued that the consultation with DUAC had to be completed at the plan conception stage itself.
  • ABSENCE OF CONSULTATION : They argued that in the absence of comprehensive consultation, the approvals were granted without proper application of mind.
  • “PRIOR APPROVAL” BY THE HERITAGE CONSERVATION COMMITTEE (HCC) : The petitioners had argued that the government failed to consult the Heritage Conservation Committee, which is an expert body in matters involving heritage structures.

The committee ought to have been consulted right from the stage of the conception of the project, even before the design for the project is agreed upon, they argued

  • ENVIRONMENTAL CLEARANCE : The petitioners argued that the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC)had no mandate to grant clearances, because the central vista project was multi-sectoral and that the body had no expertise to deal with such a project since the sectoral impact was not presented to the EAC.

COURTS RESPONSE

However, the court held that the case did not involve multi-sectoral components, and is a “simpliciter construction project

  • It also said that the petitioners had outrightly failed to substantiate their apprehensions by placing material on record to the contrary.

      IASbhai WINDUP: 

The government has stated that considering different stages for different components of the project, the DUAC’s approval on the Parliament project has been obtained

  • The approval for rest of the central vista precincts shall be taken as and when the development activity there at is proposed in future.
     SOURCES:  THE HINDU |  IE  | Supreme Court clears Central Vista Project | UPSC 

 

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