Central Vista an essential project, work to continue: Delhi HC dismisses PIL, imposes Rs 1 lakh fine on petitioner

The Centre had alleged that the plea is yet another attempt to halt the Central Vista project.

Setting aside the Public Interest Litigation filed seeking a halt on the Central Vista project, the Delhi High Court today allowed the construction work to continue, terming it a ‘vital and essential’ national project. The High Court noted that under the contract awarded to the Shapoorji Pallonji Group, work had to be completed by November 2021 and, therefore, it should be allowed to continue.

A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh, while passing the order, said that the PIL was ‘motivated’ and ‘not genuine’. It also imposed a cost of Rs 1 lakh on the petitioners. The bench also observed that the legality of the project was already upheld by the Supreme Court.

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Earlier, the bench had fixed May 31 for delivery of its judgement. The PIL was filed by Anya Malhotra, a translator, and Sohail Hashmi, a historian and documentary filmmaker. They had contended that the project does not come under essential activity and should be put on hold in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The petitioners had claimed that they were only interested in the safety of workers at the site.

The Centre had alleged that the plea is yet another attempt to halt the project. It termed the PIL as a ‘facade’ or a ‘disguise’ aimed at stalling the project. Shapoorji Pallonji and Company Pvt Ltd had also opposed the plea claiming that it lacked bonafide and the company was taking care of its workforce.

The PIL had termed the Central Vista project as ‘central fortress of death’ and had compared it to the German concentration camp Auschwitz. Appearing for the petitioner, lawyer Sidharth Luthra had contended that the Centre’s claim on the availability of medical facilities, testing centre and other amenities on the site were all false.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had said that one of the petitioners had opposed the project long before it got the Supreme Court’s nod. “Public interest is very selective about the health of workmen,” he had added and urged the court to dismiss the plea.

The Central Vista project envisages building a new Parliament House, a new residential complex to house offices of the Prime Minister and the Vice-President. It will also have new office buildings and a Central Secretariat to accommodate various ministries’ offices.

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