Centre asks Delhi HC to dismiss Central Vista plea
In response to a petition that sought to temporarily halt the construction work of the Central Vista project, the Centre on Tuesday told the Delhi High Court (HC) that the plea was an "abuse of process of law" and sought its dismissal with a fine, according to Live Law. The Centre further submitted that the petitioners willingly suppressed information available in the public domain.
The Centre submitted that stay facilities are being provided for 250 of 400 on-site workers, who are required to strictly follow COVID-appropriate behavior such as sanitization, masking, social distancing, and thermal screening. A medical facility has also been set up for COVID-19 testing and isolation to ensure "access to proper care which would otherwise have been difficult due to burdened medical infrastructure," it added.
The Centre told the Delhi HC that the scope of work which the petition refers to is not the Central Vista project, but the redevelopment of the Central Vista Avenue (both sides of Rajpath) where Republic Day celebrations are held annually, Live Law reported. This is an important public space and widely visited by commoners and tourists in Delhi, it added.
The Centre also stated that the 400 workers employed at the site have been there before the Delhi lockdown was imposed on April 19. Permission to transport materials and labor from another part of the city was granted for the period April 19-30, it added. Questioning the intentions of the petitioners, the Centre claimed that construction work was ongoing at 16 other locations.
"Out of all these construction activities going on simultaneously...the petitioner has chosen to be a 'public-spirited citizen' only with regard to one project," the Centre said, adding that the same speaks volumes about the petitioners' motives, according to Bar and Bench.
The Centre submitted that the scope of the ongoing construction work included providing public amenities like toilet blocks, paths, parking spaces, vendor zones; making four pedestrian underpasses below Janpath and C-Hexagon Road, and the improvement of canals, bridges, lawns, and lights. It submitted that the petition deserves to be dismissed as it was motivated by some undisclosed interest under the garb of "public interest."
Petitioners Anya Malhotra and Sohail Hashmi had earlier moved the Supreme Court and sought to halt construction work amid the second COVID-19 wave. The top court had allowed the petitioners to appeal for an early listing of the case in the Delhi HC. Earlier today, a bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jasmeet Singh allowed the early hearing of the petition.