HC notice to Delhi govt, NOIDA on plea to scrap toll on DND
The Delhi high court on Wednesday issued notice to the city government and the Noida authority on a plea seeking an end to the collection of toll fee from users of the Delhi-Noida road bridge terming it “illegal”.
A division Bench of Chief justice G Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath issued notice on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by NGO Sai Centre for Socio Legal Action and listed the matter for further hearing on September 9. The plea sought appropriate directions in the larger public interest to discontinue the collection of toll fee from users of the Delhi-Noida bridge as it was without the authority of law and illegal.
The PIL was filed through advocate Rajdipa Behura, who apprised the high court that the bridge was constructed pursuant to a concession agreement dated November 12, 1997, signed by the New Okhla Industrial Development Authority (NOIDA), the Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services Ltd. (ILFSL) and the Noida Toll Bridge Project Company Ltd (NTBCL).
The advocate said the concession agreement was entered into for the purpose of development, establishment, financing, design, construction, operation and maintenance of a bridge connecting Maharani Bagh in Delhi with Okhla Barrage in Noida. The bridge commenced operation on February 7, 2001.
The advocate apprised the court that at the time of entering into the concession agreement, it did not provide for delegation of power to collect a fee/toll to a private company on behalf of the state.
The bridge was to be constructed partly on land falling within the jurisdiction of the Delhi government and partly within the jurisdiction of the Uttar Pradesh government.
“A bare perusal of the provision shows that it provides for levy of ‘taxes’ and not fees. The two are conceptually different,” the plea said, adding that there was no question of either NOIDA or any private body to levy or collect fees.