New Delhi: The central government Monday assured the Supreme Court that it will not carry out any construction activity for the new Parliament building till the top court’s judgment on a batch of petitions challenging the project.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta gave the undertaking before a bench led by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar that held an urgent suo motu hearing Monday morning.
The bench expressed displeasure at the government for “aggressively” going ahead with the construction work of the Central Vista project, indirectly referring to news reports that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was going to lay the foundation stone for the new Parliament building on 10 December.
“We thought we are dealing with a prudent litigation and deference will be shown,” the bench said, adding it never “thought the government will go ahead aggressively with construction”.
“We have shown deference to you and expected that you will act in a prudent manner. The same deference should be shown to the court and there should be no demolition or construction,” the judges told Mehta, who sought a day’s time to revert.
However, the court gave him only five minutes to seek his instructions. On his return, Mehta stated there will be no construction, demolition or felling of trees.
“Foundation stone will be laid but no physical changes,” Mehta assured the bench, which then allowed the government to proceed with the project’s paperwork.
“Once you change the structure, then it will be difficult to restore it,” the court said, prompting Mehta to apologise.
SC allows formal processes without altering site
The court, however, clarified that in view of Mehta’s statement “authorities will be free to undertake other formal processes without altering the site in any manner, including continuing with scheduled programme of foundation stone on 10 December”.
The top court had on 5 November reserved its verdict on a batch of pleas which had raised questions over the central government’s ambitious Central Vista project that covers the 3km stretch from Rashtrapati Bhawan to India Gate in Lutyen’s Delhi.
Announced in September last year, the revamp envisages a new triangular Parliament building, with seating capacity for 900 to 1,200 MPs.
In an interview to ANI Saturday Lok Sabha speaker Om Birla had said the construction work of the new Parliament complex will begin this month.
Secretary-General of Lok Sabha, Utpal Kumar Singh, while taking charge of his new office, had said that agencies will try and finish the construction within two years so that the 75th year of Indian independence can be commemorated in the new Parliament.