The senior advocate told the SC bench that the matter is of extreme importance as India is facing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis.
On Friday, the SC refused to entertain a plea against deferment of hearing on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking direction to halt construction under the redevelopment of the Central Vista Avenue during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, for urgent listing of the matter, the top court gave liberty to petitioners to approach the Delhi High Court. According to a PTI report, the apex court was hearing the appeal against the high court’s May 4 order which had listed the hearing of PIL on May 17 saying it first wants to go through what the top court has deliberated in its January 5 judgment, giving a go ahead to the redevelopment project. Yesterday, senior advocate Siddharth Luthra was asked by the apex court to mention the matter before the HC for urgent listing on May 10.
The senior advocate told the SC bench that the matter is of extreme importance as India is facing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. Luthra said that labours from Sarai Kale Khan and Karol Bagh area are being transported to Raj Path and Central Vista, where construction is going on. This increases the chances of spread of novel coronavirus infection among them.
Luthra referred to the letter written by CPWD to DDMA for the continuation of construction activity in Central Vista on the ground that it is time bound work. On the ground that it was essential activity, permission was granted but how is construction an essential activity, he asked. Luthra further said that we cannot risk the lives of workers as well as their families and put more pressure on the country’s health care system, adding that the peak of the pandemic’s second wave is being anticipated by May 15 and HC has listed the matter for May 17. This wouldn’t serve any purpose, he stated.
The hearing on a PIL, which had sought direction to the central government to halt construction activities at the Central project due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation, was deferred by the HC. According to petitioners Sohail Hashmi, a historian and documentary filmmaker and Anya Malhotra, who works as a translator, the project has the potential to be a super spreader if permitted to continue during the COVID-19 pandemic. Before the HC, they have said that the project continuation was a matter of concern in view of the “crumbling” healthcare system as well as the lives at stake of the workers employed at the project construction site.