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'Motivated tag, fine unfair': SC moved against HC order on Central Vista

'Motivated tag, fine unfair': SC moved against HC order on Central Vista

New Delhi,  A plea has been filed in the Supreme Court, challenging the Delhi High Court's judgement declining to stop the construction activity at the Central Vista Redevelopment project amid the second wave of Covid-19 pandemic, and imposing Rs 1 lakh cost on the petitioners.

Petitioners Anya Malhotra, a translator, and Sohail Hashmi, a historian and documentary filmmaker, claimed the High Court judgment, apart from misconstruing their bonafide intentions, without cause ,cast them in negative light, as it dismissed their plea on the face value without any inquiry.

The petitioners have argued that their plea was a purely public health and safety issue during the catastrophic Covid second wave, which ravaged the capital and exposed its crumbling health infrastructure. But the High Court construed it as an attack on the project.

The plea argued that the ongoing construction activity has the potential of being a super spreader activity, on the account of to-and-fro movement of the workers from the site to their accommodation, located in various parts of the city, poses a grave risk to the health and safety of workers and the residents of Delhi.

The petition, filed by advocate Nitin Saluja, said: "The petitioners are not only aggrieved by the dismissal of the writ petition but also unsubstantiated findings and adverse observations, in particular the observation that the petition was motivated, ill intended and/or lacked bonafides."

Further, "the order gauges the public importance of the project without there being any averment by the Centre and others, except that the project needs to comply with a contractual deadline", the plea added.

The petitioners argued that the imposition of exorbitant costs, has a chilling effect on public spirited individuals raising genuine issues of public health and on the right of the citizens to question the actions of the government.

The plea contended that the High Court erroneously dismissed the petition by solely relying upon the respondents' submissions, government authorities and the private contractor, at face value, without any inquiry on the alleged compliance by them with Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) orders by providing on site accommodation for workers or following COVID protocols for their health and safety.

The petitioners argued that High Court not only failed to exercise its extraordinary constitutional powers under Article 226, to address the gravity of the health concerns, but castigated the well-intended public concern of the petitioners as "motivated" without any basis.

The High Court had said Central Vista project is of national importance, and it has to be completed within time-bound schedule by November 2021. The court said public is widely interested in the project, which includes a new triangular Parliament building.

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