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In the case challenging the government's proposed Central Vista Project, the Supreme Court today observed that it cannot stop authorities from acting as per the law (Rajeev Suri v. Union of India).
The Supreme Court was assured by the Centre through Solicitir General Tushar Mehta that there was no breach in the process for granting clearances for the project.
This submission from Mehta came when the Bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna took up the matter for hearing today via video conferencing. The petition filed by Rajeev Suri, challenges the Centre's notification as regards the Rs 20,000 crore project.
Counsel for the petitioner told the Bench that permissions and clearances were being granted by the concerned authorities despite the matter pending before the Court. He submitted,
"The authorities are giving approvals for construction despite pending applications. The environmental clearance committee has passed an order. Solicitor General Mehta must assure no further action or step will be taken."
Moreover, the petitioner sought a direction from the Court to the authorities to not undertake any work on the project, even if the paper work was proceeded with. The Court, however, observed that it cannot stop the authorities from going on with the work in accordance with law.
Mehta assured the Court that while the Centre's action will be as per the Court's orders, there can be no assurance right now that no work on the ground will be undertaken.
The Centre sought time to file its reply in the matter, while the petitioner will file a rejoinder on the Centre's reply. The Court clarified that all other proceedings ought to be heard together.
The Court will take up the matter for hearing next on July 7.
The petitioner Rajeev Suri was represented by Advocate Shikhil Suri while Senior Counsel Sanjay Hegde appeared for an intervening applicant. Centre was represented by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.
In March this year, the Centre notified the change in land use for the revamp of the Rs 20,000 crore Central Vista project. This notification pertains to 86 acres of land in Central Delhi which houses structures like the Rashtrapati Bhavan and the Parliament House, among others.
The notification by the Centre for a change in land use came at a time when the challenge to the redevelopment plan itself remains pending before the Supreme Court. The Apex Court had transferred the case to itself.
In April this year, the plea challenging the redevelopment plan was dismissed as withdrawn by the petitioner after the Bench led by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde observed that a similar plea was pending before the High Court. The Court had also refused to stay the project, remarking that nobody would do anything during the COVID-19 pandemic.