The Supreme Court Friday transferred to itself all writ petitions filed before the Delhi High Court challenging the Central Vista redevelopment project, a week after the HC allowed DDA to notify the proposed land-use changes in the city for the project.
A bench comprising Justice A M Khanwilkar and Justice Dinesh Maheshwari directed that the writ petitions will now be heard by the top court.
On February 28, a division bench of the Delhi HC comprising Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar had passed an ex-parte order allowing DDA to issue the notification. In doing so, the bench stayed a single-judge bench order passed by Justice Rajiv Shakder on February 11, in which the court had directed DDA to make changes in the Delhi Master Plan 2020-2021 only after approaching the court.
Both the DDA and the Centre appealed against Justice Shakder’s order before a division bench. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who appeared for the Centre, argued that since the case has elements of public interest, it must be heard by a division bench. All public interest litigation cases are with the CJ’s court as per the roster.
The division bench, passing an “ex-parte and interim order”, issued notice to the petitioners and granted them time till May 6 to file a response. The court said that “in the meanwhile, the operation, implementation and execution” of the February 11 order “shall remain stayed till the next date of hearing.”
One of the petitioners before the Delhi High Court, Rajeev Suri, moved the Supreme Court on February 3 against the division bench order, apprehending that the DDA might issue the notification.
On February 3, a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde admitted the plea and directed that it be listed before an appropriate bench. On Friday, when Justices Khanwilkar and Maheshwari heard the case, the court directed that the cases be transferred to the SC itself. A request for transfer was not made for either party but they did not oppose it either.
“Initially the court was not inclined to interfere and instead suggested we go back to the high court and seek a modification or revision of the ex-parte order. However, when the significance of the issue was highlighted, the judges decided to transfer the cases instead,” advocate-on-record Shiv Kumar Suri, who appeared for the petitioners, told The Indian Express.
The case is likely to be heard next on March 18.
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