In response to a batch of pleas challenging the Central Vista Project in terms of permissions and clearances, the Supreme Court finally okays the construction of the new parliament near Delhi’s India Gate. A 3-judge bench in a majority of 2:1 verdict said that “We hold that there are no infirmities in the clearances given and change in land use.”
The new parliament building is the centrepiece of the Central Vista project which aims to revamp the government building that lies at a 4Km stretch from Rashtrapati Bhavan to India Gate located at the heart of the capital city.
The government had recently conducted the foundation laying ceremony inaugurated by the Prime Minister assuring the court that no construction activity will take place till the court delivers its judgment on the pleas. The centre had also assured that there will be no destruction of the environment for the project till then.
The bench of Justice A.M Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari, and Sanjiv Khanna was to pronounce their verdict on the pleas that questioned the no-objection certificate granted to the project by the Central Vista Committee and the environmental clearances that have been made.
In the 2:1 verdict, Justice Sanjeev Khanna gave an alternative view. He exclaimed that the project was “bad in law” in terms of land use for two reasons.
The judge said, “There is no intelligible disclosure of public participation and no prior approval of the heritage conservation committee”. He also added that they had sent the matter to the heritage conservation committee but have not got into the merits of the matter.
The govt had argued in the court that the present British era parliament which was opened in 1927, had very little space and seating capacity, had no fire safety norms and was not Earthquake proof. The govt added that it is important for all the central ministries to stay at one place for effective functioning. All these reasons bought about the need to revamp the parliament.
One of the main contentions of the govt was that the Central Vista project is a policy decision and the court cannot strike down policy decisions unless they are violating fundamental rights. It also said that “It is a policy decision that all the central ministries should be at one place and that place must be of historic significance.”
In the Court’s verdict, it ordered that environment-friendly materials must be used in the construction of the Center Vista project and, smog towers must be an integral part of it. The Court also added that the Environmental ministry will pass similar directions for future projects.
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