In a landmark judgement, the Allahabad High Court on Wednesday ordered the DND flyway to be toll free with immediate effect, reported Times of India.
The High Court’s ruling came in response to a PIL filed by the Federation of Noida Residents Welfare Associations (FONRWA).
The Supreme Court in June had refused to restrain Noida Toll Bridge Company Ltd (NTBCL) from collecting toll on the DND flyway connecting Noida and Delhi and asked Allahabad High Court to expeditiously decide the plea of residents associations against levy of the toll.
“We will request the High Court to dispose of the PIL in three months and if that is not possible, then your (petitioner Federation of Noida Residents Welfare Association) plea for interim relief (of restraining toll operator from collecting toll) will be considered,” a bench comprising Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said.
The Federation of Noida Residents Welfare Association (FNRWA) through its President N P Singh has moved the apex court challenging the High Court order by which it had refused to restrain toll operator NTBCL from collecting the toll.
The FNRWA has also alleged that the High Court did not decide its PIL filed in 2012, despite the fact that it was listed for hearing on 70 occasions.
The plea, filed through advocate Ranjit Saxena, said that various clauses of the concessionaire agreement between the Noida authority and NTBCL were totally in favour of the toll collecting firm which has already earned nearly four times of their total project cost.
Besides the NTBCL, the plea had made various entities including New Okhla Industrial Development Authority, Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Public Works Department and Uttar Pradesh government as parties.
“The present SLP has been preferred against the interim impugned judgment and order dated January 31, 2013 passed by the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad in PIL vide which the High Court did not consider the Application for stay…,” the plea said.
It said, “the entire public of Noida and Delhi are being harassed by the charge of toll fees because the NTBCL has shown the project cost of Rs 2339.70 crore on March 31, 2012 while the investment in the year 1997 was only Rs 408 crore and till 2012, as per audit report prepared by NTBCL, Rs 801.06 crore were recovered and there was profit of Rs 581.48 crore of NTBCL”.
The FNRWAs, in its plea, said the agreement between the toll operator and Noida authority was against public interest.
The petition alleged that the period for recovering the amount has been increased from 30 to 100 years by the Noida authorities.
It also claimed that NTBCL had a share profit of 160 per cent income, as per its audit report, but the company was harassing the public using the DND flyway by continuing to impose the “illegal” toll tax.
It said the HC bench had failed to appreciate the fact that the money, which is four times that of the construction cost, has already been recovered by the firm.