The Supreme Court Friday stayed arbitral proceedings between the Noida authority and private firm NTBCL over issues related to toll collection on Delhi-Noida Direct Flyway. A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjiv Khanna passed the order while hearing an interim application filed by the Noida authority which has challenged the arbitral proceedings. “We deem it appropriate to stay the arbitral proceedings,” the bench said.
The interim application was filed by the authority in a pending appeal filed by Noida Toll Bridge Company Ltd (NTBCL), which was running the flyway, in the apex court against the Allahabad High Court’s order. In October 2016, the high court had asked NTBCL to stop collecting toll from commuters plying on the DND flyway.
During the hearing on Friday, the apex court initially observed, “If the arbitrator wants to decide the matter, we will not interfere but if arbitrator does not decide the matter, then we will look into it.” Later, the bench stayed the arbitral proceedings.
On March 5, the apex court had issued a notice to NTBCL on Noida authority’s interim application. The authority had said that the apex court was seized of NTBCL’s appeal and in the meanwhile, simultaneous arbitration proceedings were being conducted which should be stayed.
The authority had also said there cannot be simultaneous proceedings when the top court is hearing NTBCL’s appeal and moreover, “nothing is due on the Noida authority”. The top court had earlier refused to stay the high court’s order and had directed the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) to conduct the audit to ascertain the claim of NTBCL that it needed to continue collecting the toll to recover the dues.
Prior to this, the court had agreed to hear NTBCL’s appeal challenging the Allahabad High Court’s order. The high court, in October 2016, had ruled that there will be no toll collected henceforth from those using the 9.2 km-long, eight-lane flyway. The order was passed as the high court had allowed a PIL filed in 2012 by the Federation of Noida Residents’ Welfare Association.
The PIL had challenged the “levy and collection of toll in the name of user fee by Noida Toll Bridge Company”.