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Indian Case Summary

D.D.A vs Rajendra Singh & Ors on 30 July, 2009 – Case Summary

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In the case of D.D.A. vs Rajendra Singh & Ors on 30 July, 2009, the Supreme Court of India was presented with a dispute concerning the construction of the Commonwealth Games Village (CGV) site complex on the Yamuna “riverbed” or “floodplain”. The case was presided over by a bench consisting of K.G. Balakrishnan, P. Sathasivam, and B.S. Chauhan.

Facts of the Case

The case arose from special leave petitions against a common judgment and order dated 03.11.2008 of the High Court of Delhi. The High Court had issued certain directions for setting up a Committee to enquire as to whether the CGV site complex was situated on the Yamuna “riverbed” or “floodplain”. It further observed that any construction made or third party rights created were at the peril and risk of the Organisers/Government.

The Delhi Development Authority (DDA), Ministry of Urban Development & Poverty Alleviation, Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, and the Organizing Committee of the Commonwealth Games were the appellants in the case. They were aggrieved by the High Court’s judgment and hence filed special leave petitions.

On the other side, environmentalists Vinod Kumar Jain and Rajendra Singh and others, who were the original petitioners in the High Court, also filed special leave petitions. They sought to stop all construction activities on the riverbed of Yamuna other than the CGV site and Delhi Metro Rail Corporation.

Issues Raised

The main issues raised in the case were:

  1. Whether the CGV site was situated either on a “riverbed” or on the “floodplain” of the Yamuna River.
  2. Whether the construction activities on the site would affect the ecological integrity of the “riverbed” and cause irreversible damage to the “floodplain”.
  3. Whether the delay in filing the writ petitions by the environmentalists should lead to their dismissal on the ground of delay/laches.

Court’s Observations and Judgment

The court considered the reports of the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) from 1999, 2005, and 2008, remedial measures suggested by the Central Water Power Research Station (CWPRS), and the Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF), among other materials.

The court observed that the CGV site was not situated either on a “riverbed” or on the “floodplain” of the Yamuna River. It noted that the NEERI, in its 2008 report, had categorically observed that the site in question was not a “floodplain” or “riverbed”. The court also noted that the remedial measures suggested by CWPRS had been accepted by the Government and were being carried out.

The court also observed that the CGV site was located in Pocket III, which was beyond the embankment. It noted that the court had previously approved the construction of the Akshardham Temple, which was 1.7 Km. away from the river Yamuna in Pocket III area, which was abutting the present site of construction.

The court dismissed the argument of delay/laches raised by the appellants. It noted that when the change of “category” was published by way of public notice, though certain general objections were raised, no specific objection was raised by anyone, much less by the petitioners, about the Yamuna riverbed or floodplain.

In conclusion, the court upheld the construction of the CGV site, dismissing the concerns raised by the environmentalists. However, it emphasized the importance of adhering to the remedial measures suggested by CWPRS and other environmental safeguards.