The Supreme Court on Tuesday (January 5) allowed the central vista project to go ahead. A Bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna pronounced the 2-1 judgment, with Justice Khanwilkar and Justice Maheshwari forming the majority. Justice Khanna pronounced a separate judgment.
The project aims to renovate and redevelop 86 acres of land in Lutyens’s Delhi, in which the landmark structures of the Indian government, including Parliament House, Rashtrapati Bhavan, India Gate, North Block and South Block, etc. stand. The “Prime Minister’s dream project” of redeveloping the nation’s administrative heart was announced by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs on September 13, 2019.
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, Rajeev Suri, 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, and that 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, which was itself under challenge in the top court at the time.
Subsequently, the court heard the challenge on three main grounds: change of land use; violations of municipal law; and violations of environmental law. During final hearings in October and November 2020, several top lawyers appeared in the case. The court reserved its judgment on November 5.
Bhumi Pujan last month
The groundbreaking ceremony for the new Parliament building was held on December 10. Prime Minister Narendra Modi 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.
After initially frowning on the planned bhumi pujan, 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.
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