SC rejects plea to change land use for Central Vista

Supreme Court rejects plea for change in land use for Central Vista

It noted that the Centre has brought on record that they will increase the green area overall

The Supreme Court of India. Credit: PTI Photo

The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a petition, challenging the change of land use of a part of Central Vista project from recreational to residential for the official residence of the Vice President.  

A bench presided over by Justice A M Khanwilkar wondered whether suggestions from the common people be taken on board on the location of the Vice President's house.

The court agreed to the Centre's contention that the area is proposed to be made into residential area for Vice President and it is a policy decision. 

“How is it illegal? What are the mala fides?" the bench asked petitioner Rajeev Suri's counsel.

The court did not allow a plea by the petitioner that the authorities should explore alternate sites and the green areas should be protected. 

It noted that the Centre has brought on record that they will increase the green area overall. 

Also read: Change in land use without compromising green area in Central Vista, Centre tells SC

The bench said the only argument of the petitioner is that in the past since the plot was shown as recreational ground it should be retained as such and at least the commensurate area should have been provided elsewhere for such purpose. 

“This cannot be the scope of judicial review. It is the prerogative of the authority concerned and the change effected in the development plan in one sense is a matter of policy," the bench said.

The Centre has maintained before the court the Delhi Development Authority took a holistic view and approved the change of land use in Central Vista Project without compromising with green area, built heritage, transport infrastructure and for better utilisation of the spaces. 

The government defended its notification for change in land use in saying the area in question was being used for government offices for 90 years and loss of greenery will be compensated. 

 

The petitioner claimed the notification issued on October 28, 2020, notifying the change in land use, would deprive residents of Delhi, a vast chunk of highly treasured open and green space in Central Vista area available for social and recreational activity.

The multi-thousand crore Central Vista redevelopment project covered a three-km stretch from Rashtrapati Bhavan to India Gate in Lutyens' Delhi. Several government buildings including the Parliament House and ministry offices, will be rebuilt.

In January, this year, the Supreme Court had cleared the decks for the project by upholding the environmental clearance and the notification for change in land use.

The ongoing construction has been repeatedly criticised by main Opposition Congress party leaders for spending huge money on the project when the country was reeling under the onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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