‘No infirmities in approvals’: SC go-ahead to Central Vista

Satya Prakash
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, January 5

The Supreme Court on Tuesday cleared the Central Vista redevelopment project that included construction of a new Parliament building and a common Central Secretariat, with certain conditions.

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By a 2:1 majority, a three-judge Bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar held that there were no infirmities in the clearances given for the project, including those with regard to change in the land use, environmental clearances and selection of consultant.

“We cannot be called upon to govern. For, we have no wherewithal or prowess and expertise in that regard,” the majority verdict by Justice Khanwilkar and Justice Dinesh Maheshwari said.

However, it asked the Centre to get necessary prior permission of the heritage conservation committee “before actually starting any development/redevelopment work on the stated plots/structures/precincts governed by the heritage laws, including on plot number 118, if already not obtained”.

2:1 judgment

A three-judge Bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar, by 2:1 majority, held that the grant of environmental clearance and the notification for change in land use for construction of new Parliament building under the Central Vista project was valid.

The top court directed the project proponent to set up smog towers of adequate capacity as an integral part of the new Parliament building project and use smog guns at the construction site throughout the construction phase. It also asked the Ministry of Environment and Forests to instal smog towers in future projects.

Justice Sanjiv Khanna, who delivered a dissenting verdict, held the change in land use and green clearances given to the project were bad in law, even as he said, “Our interference does not reflect on merits of the stands, but is on account of procedural illegalities and failure to abide the statutory provisions and mandate.”

Last month, the Bench had expressed displeasure over the Centre going ahead with the project without waiting for its verdict. However, it had allowed the stone-laying on December 10. The SC noted, “The petitioners have not pointed out a single document which formed a part of the process and was not placed in public domain.”

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