DND to remain toll free as SC refuses to stay HC order
The DND flyway connecting Delhi and neighbouring Noida will remain toll free for commuters with the Supreme Court refusing to stay the Allahabad high court verdict restraining Noida Toll Bridge Company Ltd from levying cess.
“It is a very big decision for millions of road users as the court has refused to stay Allahabad HC’s order continuing a free ride. The concessionaire Noida Toll Bridge Company Ltd (NTBCL), even after earning revenue of more than Rs 2,000 crore or three to four times than actual cost of its construction, was adamant to collect toll from the users.
Their connivance with a few government officials was also a reason for not allowing a free ride. The court has asked for the CAG audit. Loot of crores of money by the toll operator will come out in the public,” said N P Singh, president of FoNRWA which had moved the court.
A Bench of Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justices D Y Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao also asked the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) to verify the cost of the DND flyway project and submit a report before the Apex Court. “We have requested the CAG to verify the cost of the project...” the Bench said, adding: “We refuse to grant any relief.”
The Apex Court had on October 28 refused to interfere with the HC order restraining the company, saying it will pass directions after Diwali vacations. On the toll collecting firm’s plea for interim stay on the HC order, the Apex Court Bench headed by the Chief Justice had said: “You have only ten kms of highway and you claim that you have made a road to the moon. You have done well but not something (great).
” The firm had said that the High Court did not take into account all aspects and submitted that factors like interest on construction cost, depreciation and maintenance expenses, which come to around Rs 12.5 lakh per day, have not been duly considered.
The High Court, on October 26, had brought cheers to millions of commuters ruling that no toll will be collected henceforth from those using the 9.2 km-long, eight-laned DND flyway.
The order was passed as the High Court allowed a PIL by the Federation of Noida Residents’ Welfare Association. The PIL, filed in 2012, had challenged the “levy and collection of toll in the name of user fee” by the NTBCL.
In an over 100-page judgment, the High Court had held “the user fee which is being levied/realised is not supported by the legal provisions relied upon by the Concessionaire (Noida Toll Bridge Company), Infrastructure Leaning and Financial Services (promoter and developer of the project) and Noida Authority.”
A Bench of Justice Arun Tandon and Justice Sunita Agrawal considered several aspects of the case before ruling that NTBCL had “recovered all reasonable returns” on its investment, and was no longer entitled to collect toll. There were frequent complaints that the toll – Rs 28 on cars – was unreasonable and too high.