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Policy Matter: SC Junks Plea Against Change in Central Vista Project Land Use

"It's not (a) private property being created there. The Vice President's residence is being created," the SC said.

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The Supreme Court, on Tuesday, 23 November, dismissed a plea that said the Central Vista project would affect a public recreational zone, stating that the Centre's reasons were justified.

A bench comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari, and CT Ravikumar was hearing the plea by Advocate Rajeev Suri. Suri, in his petition, had challenged the "change in land use of the plot from recreational area to residential" and claimed that the Central Vista project would impact a public recreation zone.

The bench asked how the proposed change is against the law.

"They say that the area is proposed to be made into residential area for Vice President... it is a policy decision. How is it illegal? What are the mala fides?" Justice Khanwilkar asked, according to LiveLaw.

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"Petitioner has not argued that change in land use is in a malafide manner. It is the argument of the petitioner that since in the past it was a recreational area, it should have been retained like that. This cannot be the scope of judicial review. It is the for the authority concerned and is a matter of public policy," the court said, according to Bar and Bench.

Justice AM Khanwilkar said the Vice President's residence and not a private property was being created at the site and hence there was bound to be greenery around. He said the plan had already been approved by the authorities unless the petitioner was alleging "malafide in that process."

The bench pointed out that the Centre has brought on record that they will increase the overall green area. 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.

"Assuming the plot was used for recreational area in the post, is it not open for the authorities to change for the holistic development of the area?" the judge questioned.

"Will we start asking the common man now where will the residence of the Vice President be," he further asked.

(With inputs from Bar and Bench, LiveLaw, The Indian Express, and NDTV.)

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