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Central Vista- the new builddesign of Government of India.

The Supreme Court on Monday sought response from the Centre, within three days, on a plea challenging a notification for change in land use, which would deprive residents of Delhi a vast chunk of green space in the Central Vista area.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta submitted before a bench headed by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar that he will seek instructions from the government. He added since the Prime Minister and Vice President's house is coming up there, therefore it would not be possible to have a recreational area in the vicinity.

After hearing arguments, the bench, also comprising Justice C.T. Ravikumar, posted the matter for further hearing on Friday.

The plea, filed by social activist Rajeev Suri, who had earlier challenged the project earlier citing an illegal change in land use and absence of environmental clearance, through advocate Shikhil Suri, contended that the Centre did, mala fide, issue a 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) in the right to the 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.

The plea sought the top court to issue directions to call records and quash the notification concerned issued by the Centre, through the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, and, also to prevent loss equities by staying activities such demolition of buildings, cutting of trees, excavation of land and other actions which may be irreversible.

The Central Vista redevelopment project, which covers a three-km stretch from Rashtrapati Bhavan to India Gate in Lutyens' Delhi, at the cost of Rs 20,000 crore, where several government buildings -- including the Parliament House and ministry offices, will be rebuilt.

In January, this year, the Supreme Court had cleared the decks for the Central Vista project by upholding the environmental clearance and the notification for change in land use. (IANS/JB)

Keywords: India, Government, Central Vista, Supreme court of India.


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Supreme Court of India

The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has the power to take suo motu cognizance - on the basis of letters, representations, and media reports -- and can initiate proceedings on its own on issues pertaining to the environment.

A bench of Justices A.M. Khanwilkar, Hrishikesh Roy, and C.T. Ravikumar delivered the judgment on a batch of petitions which raised the issue of whether the NGT has suo motu jurisdiction.

Senior advocate Sanjay Parikh had argued that the NGT has been conferred powers to pass orders for the restitution of the environment, hence it can exercise suo motu powers. However, a battery of senior advocates opposed his arguments, stating that only constitutional courts can exercise suo motu powers and a statutory tribunal like the NGT has to act within the confines of its parent law.

Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, representing the Centre, held that the NGT does not have the power to take cognizance of a matter on its own. But she also contended that the tribunal's powers cannot be bound by procedural constraints.

"This is a peculiar tribunal dealing with environmental matters. Often, the environment ends up being nobody's baby," she said.

The bench had queried her that if the tribunal were to receive a piece of information in connection with the environment, will it not be duty-bound to initiate the process? The ASG responded that once a letter or communication is received by the tribunal, it is within its power to take cognizance of it.

On September 8, the bench had reserved a verdict on the issue. Senior advocate Anand Grover, amicus curiae in the case, had opined that the NGT cannot exercise suo motu powers on the basis of letters, representations, or media reports. (IANS/JB)

Keywords: National Green Tribunal, India, Supreme Court, Environment, Suo Motu Powers.


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Supreme Court of India

After pushing the Centre on admitting women into the National Defence Academy (NDA), the Supreme Court on Thursday directed the government to make arrangements for the induction of girls into the Rashtriya Indian Military College (RIMC) by allowing them to take the exam scheduled on December 18, 2021.

A bench headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul asked the government to publish the modified advertisement seeking applications from girls.

Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati informed the bench, also comprising Justice M.M. Sundresh, that preparations for the exam slated in December were already at an advanced stage and urged the court to allow for the induction of girls into the RIMC and Rashtriya Military School for the term beginning from January 2023 and not June 2022.

However, the bench did not accept this contention and added that six months' time was sufficient to make preparations for the induction of girls in the June 2022 session. The bench told Bhati, "You are effectively postponing everything, why do you want to postpone for a year?" Bhati responded that October 30, 2021, is the last date for submission of applications for the December exam. Justice Kaul remarked, "We are not saying that there are no difficulties. just take one step more".

The bench recorded in its order that the respondent authorities must modify the preparatory work done for the December 18 examination and permit girls to take the exam.

The top court has scheduled the matter for further hearing in January next year along with the matter connected with the induction of women in NDA.

The Army Training Command in an affidavit in the top court said it is making arrangements to admit girl cadets/candidates to the Rashtriya Indian Military College (RIMC) and Rashtriya Military Schools (RMC) from the academic session 2022-23. The affidavit said the admission to RIMC is done through an all-India competitive examination held biannually in June and December every year for admission in January and July. “All states of the union are allotted one seat while Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal are allotted two seats, and Uttar Pradesh three seats," it added.

Elaborating on Phase 1, the affidavit said: "Increase capacity from 250 to 300 incrementally by inducting 5 girls per six months...girls will be allowed to take the RIMC entrance examination scheduled in June 2022 for entry into RIMC for the term starting in January 2023". It further added that in Phase 2 there is a plan to increase capacity from 300 to 350 and to induct 10 girls every month and at the end of this expansion, RIMC will have 250 boys and 100 girls. For this, it is submitted that girls will be allowed to take the RIMC entrance examination scheduled in June 2027 for the term starting January 2028," said the affidavit. (IANS/JB)

Keywords: National Defence Academy, Rashtriya Indian Military College, Supreme Court, India, Women