Central Vista - A view from Rashtrapati Bhawan
Central Vista - A view from Rashtrapati Bhawan
Litigation News

Central Vista Project: Centre's decision to notify change in land use challenged before Supreme Court

Shruti Mahajan

Even while a challenge to the Central Vista redevelopment plan in Delhi remains pending before the Supreme Court, a fresh petition to quash the Central Government's March 20 notification notifying a change in land use has now been filed.

On March 20, Centre notified the change in land use for the revamp of the Central Vista Rs 20,000 Crore 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, after the case was transferred by the Supreme Court to itself.

The petitioner, Rajeev Suri, had earlier challenged the December 2019 public notice of the Delhi Development Authority inviting objections against the change in land use before the Delhi High Court.

He has now moved the Supreme Court against the Centre's fresh notification of March 20 saying that the notification is a "brash" move and will deprive the citizens, and particularly the residents of Delhi of their rights under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. As stated in the petition,

"Respondent No. 1 (Union of India) brashly issued Notification No. SO 1192 (E) dated 20th March 2020, changing land use, which will deprive residents of Delhi and citizens of India a vast chunk of highly treasured open and green space in the Central Vista area, available for public, semi-public, social and recreational activity, stands against Article 21, Right to Life the right to enjoyment of a wholesome life."

This new notification, the petitioner asserts, is in contravention of the Master Plan 2021. The Master Plan of Delhi 2021 (MPD 2021) seeks to decentralize government offices in the NCR region, whereby no new Central Government and Public Sector Undertaking offices would be located in NCT of Delhi as per its Chapter 8.

The March 21 notification is in stark contrast to the MPD2021, given that new government and semi-government offices are sought to be opened in open spaces in Central Delhi, leading to Central Vista being cramped with new structures, the petition contends.

The MPD2021 also stipulated for the protection of heritage buildings in the Lutyen's Zone in Delhi, it is said in the petition. In this regard, the petitioner adds that the Master Plan says that the "built heritage of Delhi needs to be protected, nourished and nurtured, and the aim of all the agencies must frame policies and strategies for conservation, with appropriate action plans."

The petition goes on to add that the public hearings in the matter were conducted in the "most arbitrary and lier manner" by the Delhi Development Authority, and the petition against the same remains pending before the Supreme Court.

In view of these submissions, the petitioner has now challenged the new notification by the Central Government. The petitioner has also urged the Court to stay activities such as demolishing of buildings, cutting of trees and excavation of land that may be irreversible at a later date.

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