The DND flyway connecting the Capital with neighbouring Noida in Uttar Pradesh will remain toll-free for now. The Supreme Court on Friday refused to stay the Allahabad High Court’s order and said no toll would be collected by the Noida Toll Bridge Company (NTBCL) till further orders.
An average of 1.5 lakh vehicles take the DND flyway (Delhi-Noida-Direct) daily. “You made only 10 km of highway and you claim that you have made a road to the moon,” Chief Justice TS Thakur, who was heading the apex court bench, said when senior counsel AM Singhvi, on behalf of the company, argued that it has built and is maintaining an “excellent highway”.
The SC also indicated that it will appoint an independent auditor or ask the CAG to audit NTBCL accounts to find whether the profit recovered was adequate. The order will be passed after Diwali vacations.
When the toll bridge company said the toll-free order should be put on hold as it cannot chase people to get money if it was successful in the appeal, the Chief Justice shot back: “If we decide against you, how will you pay back? You can’t run after each customer to refund the money.”
Singhvi argued that this is the first project that came to India when no one was coming and the company is listed on London Stock Exchange. “Permitting it to collect toll for one or two more months would cause no harm to anyone,” he said.
The HC had brought cheers to millions of commuters in the NCR region ruling that there will be no toll collected henceforth from those using the 9.2 km-long, eight-lane flyway.
The HC order had come on a PIL filed by the Federation of Noida Resident Welfare Association in 2012 challenging the levy and collection of toll in the name of user fee by the company. The HC said the company had collected over R800 crore in toll-fee in 13 years, which meant a surplus of nearly R600 crore after discounting the operating costs.
In an over 100-page judgment, the HC had held that “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 the Noida Authority.”