The Delhi High Court on Monday observed that the Central Vista Project was of national importance while dismissing the plea seeking a halt on its construction activities in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. The plea lacks bonafide, is motivated, and ill-intentioned, the court observed while imposing costs of Rs 1 lakh on the two petitioners – translator Anya Malhotra and historian Sohail Hashmi.
"It is an essential project of national importance where the sovereign function of Parliament would be carried. The public is vitally interested in the project," the division bench led by Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh said. The plea is not genuine and appeared to be motivated since the project's clearance was upheld by the Supreme Court, the bench added.
The question of suspending work did not arise since the workers are residing at the construction site, the court added. The court found no reason to stall the construction since the project had to be completed before November 2021. "Time is of the essence. Once workers are staying at the site, all facilities are provided and COVID-29 protocols are being adhered to, there is no reason to stop the project," the court concluded.
The high court's decision came on a plea filed by Malhotra and Hashmi who submitted that the construction of Central Vista in times of a pandemic posed a threat and could potentially be a "super spreader".
There was no rationale to classify the Central Vista project as an "essential service", simply because some Executive mandated a contractual deadline that was ostensibly required to be met, the court observed.
The Central Vista redevelopment project is a mammoth plan which envisages a new triangular Parliament building, a common central secretariat and a complete revamp of the three-km-long Rajpath which starts from Rashtrapati Bhavan and ends at India Gate. The Centre has also proposed a new residential complex for the Prime Minister and the Vice President along with several new offices. The completion of the first phase was scheduled for the country's 75th Independence Day celebrations on August 15, 2022.
The Central Vista Project has met with stiff opposition from several sections of society. The project came under intense criticism for alleged violation of land use and environmental norms.