A bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh dismissed the plea saying the petition was “motivated” and “not a genuine PIL”. The bench imposed a cost of Rs 1 lakh on the petitioners.
The court further allowed Central Vista construction to continue, saying it was a “vital and essential” national project.
The high court while refusing to stay construction said that as the labourers are staying on-site, “no question of suspending the construction work arises”.
“The concerned Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) order in question nowhere prohibits construction work,” said the Delhi high court.
The court said 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.
The legality of the project was already upheld by the Supreme Court, said the Delhi HC.
Why was Central Vista construction opposed
In the joint plea by Anya Malhotra, a translator, and Sohail Hashmi, a historian and documentary filmmaker, the petitioners had contended that the project was not an essential activity and can be put on hold for time being.
During the May 17 hearing, the Centre had termed the plea as a “facade” or a “disguise”, aimed at stalling the project.
The petitioners on the other hand had contended they were only interested in the safety of workers at the site and citizens living in the area.
The petitioners’ counsel had likened the project to “Auschwitz”, a German concentration camp during World War II. The petitioners’ counsel 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.
What were Centre’s arguments
Hard-hitting arguments against the maintainability of the plea were made during the hearing.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, however, had taken strong exceptions to the project being dubbed as “Auschwitz” and said “one can criticise and be venomous” about it but such terms should not be used in courtrooms.
Countering the petitioners’ claims, the Centre’s law officer had said one of the petitioners had been opposed to the project long before it got the go-ahead from the Supreme Court in January this year.
He said the petitioners were not concerned with the health and safety of workers at other construction sites in the city.
“Public interest is very selective (in the instant case) about the health of workmen,” he had added and urged the court to dismiss the plea.
He had said the petitioners cannot decide what is the safe timeline for completing the project and the company has to finish it by November so that the Republic Day parade can be held on the Rajpath.
What is Central Vista project?
The project entails construction activities on Rajpath and the surrounding lawns from India Gate to Rashtrapati Bhawan.
The project envisages building a new Parliament House, a new residential complex to house offices and the Prime Minister and the vice-president.
It will also have new office buildings and a Central Secretariat to accommodate various ministries’ offices.
(With inputs from agencies)