The Supreme Court transfers the case concerning the re-development of New Delhi’s Central Vista area from the Delhi High Court to itself

The Supreme Court observed that a contract is void if prohibited by a statute under a penalty, even without express declaration that the contract is void

For the interests of public in the larger domain, the Supreme Court has transferred to itself petitions challenging the re-development of New Delhi’s Central Vista area from the Delhi High Court.

Prior Facts:

Previously, a single judge’s Bench of the Supreme Court had directed the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) to approach the court before notifying the proposed land-use changes in the Central Vista. A Division Bench of the Delhi High Court then had stayed the single judge’s order that had come on two petitions filed by Rajeev Suri and Lt Col Anuj Srivastava challenging the public notice inviting objections against the change of land use of several plots in Central Vista. Apprehending that the DDA may notify the proposed land-use changes, Suri had moved the top court against the Division Bench order.

The top court was hearing an appeal filed against a February 28 order passed by a division bench of the high court which had granted relief to the Central government by staying a judgment by a single judge bench of the high court.

Justice Shakdher of the Delhi High Court said that, “In case, a decision is taken to notify the proposed changes in Master Plan Delhi 2020-21, the DDA will approach the court before notifying such decision” which is however now on a stay order granted by the division bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar on a petition filled by Suri.

On February 3, a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde admitted the plea and directed that it be listed before an appropriate bench. On Friday, when Justices Khanwilkar and Maheshwari heard the case, the court directed that the cases be transferred to the SC itself. A request for transfer was not made for either party but they did not oppose it either.

Key Features:

  • The Top Court had said that the transfer of petition is only in public interests.
  • It said that, the transfer order was not a reflection on the proceedings before the high court in any manner.
  • Suri had contended that the notice inviting objections to the change of land use of several plots in Central Vista was not in conformity with the Delhi Master Plan-2021 and other relevant laws and norms.
  • The Central Vista redevelopment plan – which aims to free up 75-acre land in the heart of the capital – involves demolition of around 10 buildings, including Shastri Bhawan, Udyog Bhawan, Krishi Bhawan, Vigyan Bhawan, Vice-President’s House and Lok Nayak Bhawan. It is planned that a common central secretariat complex and a new Parliament building will be constructed.
  • The order was passed in two petitions, one filed by Rajeev Suri and the other by Lt Colonel Anuj Srivastava.
  • Suri challenged the alterations proposed by the government on the ground that it involves changes to land use and standards of population density and that the DDA is not vested with the requisite power to bring about such changes.
  • He also stated that, the power, if at all, for bringing about such like changes lies with the Central government.
  • Srivastava, meanwhile, challenged the public hearings held to raise objections to the exercise, arguing that the hearings were a mere formality devoid of any meaningful exercise.

Judgement:

While transferring the petition, so called for to itself, the Supreme Court through Bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar stated that, “In our opinion, it is just and proper that writ petition itself is heard by this court instead of examining the grievance about the manner in which the interim directions have been passed and then vacated by the High Court”.

The Apex Court observed that, “In our opinion, it is just and proper that the writ petition itself is heard by this court instead of examining the grievance about the manner in which the interim directions have been passed and then vacated by the high court”.

The case is likely to be heard next on March 18.

Edited by J. Madonna Jephi

Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje

Reference:

  • Case of Rajeev Suri vs. Union of India, Special Leave Petition (Civil) Diary No(S). 8430/2020, decided by the Supreme Court on March 06, 2020.
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Vaibhav Goyal is a 3rd year BA.LLB (H) student of UILS, Panjab University, Chandigarh, India. He also basically belongs to the “City Beautiful-Chandigarh”. He had interned and have work experience at various Central and State Government bodies of India including the National Human Rights Commission, New Delhi; the Central Information Commission, New Delhi; U.T. Legal Services Authority, Chandigarh, etc. His research projects includes the study on the Right to Emergency Services (PSHRC), Resettlement of Migrant People (NHRC), Implications of RTI in Financial Institutions (CIC), etc. His publications involve articles in different fields of law like administrative, jurisprudence, etc. on online journals including the Juscholars Blog, Burnished Law Journal, etc. His research paper on Prison Reform was published in the Panjab University Journal and his paper was selected in category of best abstract on the topic of Naxalism: A State of Lawlessness and Arbitrariness. He had scored well in various competitions of law consisting of Quiz, Essay Writing, Lecture, Declamation, etc. He had also participated in various conferences including the World Law Forum Conference on Strategic Lawsuits on Public Participation held in New Delhi on Oct 20, 2018 and the National Law Conclave 2020 held at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi on Jan 11, 2020.