NEW DELHI: A last ditch attempt to stall demolition of Hall of Nations in Pragati Maidan was made on Friday in the Delhi high court by an architect who had designed one of the buildings.
Raj Rewal's plea was dismissed by a single bench on Thursday, prompting him to approach a division bench.
On Friday acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Anu Malhotra refused to issue any interim directions on the plea, but did wonder why a proposed centre to replace Hall of Nations is coming up in the middle of the capital.
"No where in the world are world class centres in the heart of the city. We are the only ones who have an expo in middle of the city. You should think about this," the bench remarked, after additional solicitor general Sanjay Jain informed it that a world class convention centre is proposed to be built by razing Hall of Nations.
Even as architect Raj Rewal urged the court to stay the demolition till next date of hearing, the court declined, but agreed on ASG's plea for an early hearing next week.
While dismissing Rewal's plea on Thursday, Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva had taken into account the decision of the Heritage Conservation Committee (HCC), set up for protecting heritage structures, which has held that only 60-year-old or older buildings would be considered for heritage status.
The Hall of Nations, located in Delhi's exhibition ground of Pragati Maidan, being only 45-year-old would not get the protection of being considered a heritage structure as per HCC guidelines, the court noted in its ruling.
It also said that HCC's guidelines, formulated in February this year, have not been challenged by the architect nor was the March 3 decision of the Delhi Urban Arts Commission, which had approved the plan for an integrated exhibition centre that would come up at Pragati Maidan.
ASG Jain, appearing for the Centre, had opposed Rewal's plea contending that the Hall of Nations is "not a one-of-its-kind architectural marvel". He said buildings by other eminent architects in Pragati Maidan have already been or would be demolished. He also said that once an expert view has been taken by the HCC and DUAC, judicial interference in the decision is not called for. As per ITPO the demolitions have to be completed and the debris removed by May 31 and the fresh construction has to start from June 1.