Apex court suspends bar on Commonwealth Village construction


New Delhi : The Supreme Court Friday froze a Delhi High Court ruling which ordered forming a panel headed by R.K. Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that won the Nobel Prize, to keep a tab on ecological compatibility of the Commonwealth Games Village’s construction on the Yamuna river bed.

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A bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justice P. Sathasivam suspended the Nov 3 ruling of the Delhi High Court on an urgent lawsuit by the central government, which feared that the ruling might not only impair the ongoing construction but even jeopardise the 2010 mega event.

On the government’s plea, the bench also stopped the Delhi High Court from conducting any hearing on the ongoing construction of the Games Village till Dec 15.

Questioning the high court’s step of delivering its verdict a full eight months after its last hearing on a lawsuit opposing the construction of the 2010 Commonwealth Games Village, the government contended that “the high court ruling would seriously jeopardise the very conduct and holding of the 2010 Games in Delhi”.

Appearing for the union government, Solicitor General Goolam E. Vahanvati also vehemently questioned the unusual and unconventional manner in which the two judges of the bench delivered their verdicts separately one after the other after hearing the matter together.

Vahanvati said that after the senior judge of the high court’s bench Justice A.K. Sikri delivered his verdict, dismissing the plea to stop the ongoing construction of the Games Village, allegedly on the Yamuna river bed, the junior judge Rekha Sharma proceeded to deliver her own judgement separately.

In her separately written judgement, she criticised Justice Sikri’s ruling on various grounds and proceeded to issue her own directions, said Vahanvati. He added that Justice Sikri, in turn, added a post-script to his own ruling and said that all the directions of Justice Sharma were part of his own judgement as well.

Enlisting various divergent points in the two rulings, Vahanvati said Justice Sikri categorically dismissed the plea to stop the ongoing construction of the 2010 Games Villages on the grounds that it was not being built either on the Yamuna bed or its flood zone.

Justice Sikri in his ruling also noted that the government had all the necessary environmental approvals from various competent authorities and scientific bodies for the construction, which is akin to the construction in an area where the Akshardham temple had been built with the apex court’s approval, said Vahanvati.

Vahanvati said Justice Sikri, accepting the government’s plea, also approved formation of a committee headed by Pachauri to keep a general tab on the ongoing construction.

He added that Justice Sharma, subsequently, in her ruling wanted the Pachauri panel to examine whether the Games Village was being built on the river bed.