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.
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.
- 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.
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
- 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.