New Delhi: The Delhi High Court today issued notice to the city government and New Okhla Industrial Development Authority (NOIDA) on a PIL seeking direction to discontinue collection of toll from commuters of DND flyover on the grounds that it was illegal.
A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath sought response of the Delhi government and NOIDA by September 9 on the petition filed by a trust which also sought quashing of a January 1997 support agreement entered by the city government with NOIDA to facilitate construction of a bridge.
In the PIL, Sai Centre for Socio Legal Action claimed that the financial statements, which allegedly showed that far beyond what was spent has been collected, were deliberately kept out public domain by Noida Toll Bridge Project Company Ltd (NTBCL) and NOIDA was maintaining silence in "apparent collusion".
"By such illegal acts, NTBCL is making undeserved and illegal gain of huge sums of money and making users of the bridge pay more than what is legally payable.
"It is the specific case of the petitioner that the collection is wholly illegal, without sanctity of law and should be stopped/discontinued forthwith," the petition filed through advocate Rajdipa Behura said.
The petitioner has relied upon information and documents received from NOIDA in response to RTI applications filed by one Vimla Batham who had sought information regarding design, development, establishment, financing, construction, operation and maintenance of the bridge connecting Maharani Bagh in South Delhi and Okhla Barrage in NOIDA.
It said being aggrieved by the continuous increase in the toll rates of the DND flyover, the woman had filed RTI pleas seeking information from NOIDA on hiking toll rates but the questions were not answered adequately.
The petition said the DND flyover was constructed pursuant to the concession agreement of November 12, 1997 entered into between NOIDA, Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services Ltd (ILFSL) and NTBCL.
The concession agreement was entered into for development, establishment, financing, design, construction, operation and maintenance of the bridge which was built for convenience of the public commuting between NOIDA and South Delhi or Gurgaon, the petition said.
It urged the court to call for all relevant records from the respondents and direct NOIDA to prohibit NTBCL from levying or collecting toll fees from the users of the bridge with immediate effect.
It also sought a direction to NOIDA, NTBCL and others to provide complete information to the petitioner and ensure that the toll rates are revised by the government.
Regarding the issue of jurisdiction, the petitioner said that the bridge was constructed partly on lands falling within the jurisdiction of Delhi and Uttar Pradesh governments.
Apart from Delhi Government and NOIDA, UP Government, NTBPL and ILFSL have also been made parties in the petition.