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Policy decision: SC junks plea against change in land use in Central Vista project

 
New Delhi, Nov 23 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Tuesday junked a petition, challenging change of land use of a part of Central Vista project from recreational to residential for the official residence of the vice president.

A bench headed by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar asked petitioner Rajiv Suri's counsel that 'should the suggestion from the common people be taken on board on the location of the vice president's house?'

The bench further queried Suri's counsel that the Centre had contended that the area is proposed to be made into residential area for vice president and it is a policy decision.

The bench asked, "How is it illegal? What are the mala fides?"

The petitioner's counsel argued that the authorities should explore alternate sites and the green areas should be protected.

The bench pointed out that the Centre has brought on record that they will increase the green area overall. After a hearing in the matter, the bench noted that the only argument of the petitioner is that in the past since the plot was shown as recreational ground it should be retained as such and at least the commensurate area should have been provided elsewhere for such purpose.

"This cannot be the scope of judicial review. It is the prerogative of the authority concerned and the change effected in the development plan in one sense is a matter of policy," said the bench.

The Centre urged the Supreme Court to dismiss the plea challenging a notification for change in land use, which would deprive residents of Delhi a vast chunk of green space in Central Vista area, saying the area in question is being used for government offices for 90 years and loss of greenery will be compensated.

The plea filed through advocate Shikhil Suri contended that Centre malafidely issued notification dated October 28, 2020, notifying the change in land use, which will deprive residents of Delhi, a vast chunk of highly treasured open and green space in Central Vista area available for social and recreational activity.

The plea argued that this notification stands against Article 21, Right to Life, the right to enjoyment of wholesome life.

"Since the subject plot no. 1 takes over spaces of a children's recreational park and bus terminal for public transport, heightened judicial scrutiny is required to cut through the well disguised illegalities and infirmities to reach the violations of statutory laws", said the plea.

--IANS
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