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New Delhi, April 30, 2020
The Supreme Court on Thursday declined to stay the Central Vista redevelopment project, estimated to cost Rs 20,000 crore and which seeks to build a new parliament building and other central government offices in Lutyens' zone in central Delhi.
A bench headed by Chief Justice S. A. Bobde said, "In COVID-19 times no one is going to do anything. There is no urgency."
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, said, "A new parliament is being constructed. Why should anyone have a problem?" The plan for the project has been prepared in accordance with India's 75th Independence Day in 2022.
The apex court was hearing a plea, through video conferencing, filed by advocate Rajeev Suri challenging the Central Vista redevelopment plan on the ground that there is an illegal change in land use. The petition argued that the government's notification on March 20, which supersedes a public notice issued by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) on December 19, 2019, is a subjugation of the rule of law and judicial protocol as the 2019 notice is under challenge and being heard by the Supreme Court itself.
The Central Vista houses iconic buildings like Parliament House, Rashtrapati Bhavan, the North and South Block buildings, which house important ministries, and also the India Gate. The Centre is proposing to redevelop by constructing a new parliament house, a new residential complex, which would house the Prime Minister and the Vice President besides several new office buildings.
The apex court observed that a similar petition opposing the project is pending in court. Suri had already filed a petition against the project, which is pending in the top court.
"A similar petition is pending. There is no need to duplicate it," said the court, insisting the petitioner can amend the pending petition.
The work on the Central Vista is slated for completion by November 2021. By March 2022, a new parliament building and a common central secretariat by March 2024, according to the government.