The Delhi-Noida Direct (DND) flyway will remain toll free for commuters, the Supreme Court on Friday said while disagreeing with Noida Toll Bridge Company Ltd that its refusal to stay Allahabad High Court’s verdict would cause the firm irreparable loss.
The apex court said while the company can be compensated later if it succeeds in its appeal, it will be impossible to provide restitution to the lakhs of commuters from whom the toll fee would be collected to repay them on dismissal of the Special Leave Petition (SLP).
A bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur also asked the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) to assist in the matter and verify the company’s claim that the total cost of the project has not been recovered and submit a report within four weeks.
The bench, also comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao, directed the firm to place before the CAG, the entire record pertaining to recovery of the total project cost of the DND flyover project as per the Agreement.
While declining the firm’s plea to stay the high court’s October 26 judgement restraining it from levying the cess, the bench said, “We do not agree with the submission that the petitioner (firm) would suffer irreparable loss if the judgment of the High Court is not stayed.”
“It will be impossible to provide restitution to the lakhs of commuters from whom the fee would be collected to repay them in the event of dismissal of the SLP.
“On the other hand, if the petitioner succeeds, it can be compensated suitably by extension of time. The balance of convenience is also against the petitioner. Therefore, we are not inclined to grant the interim relief as prayed for,” the bench said.
The high court, on October 26, had brought cheers to millions of commuters by ruling that no toll will be collected henceforth from those using the 9.2 km-long, eight-lane DND flyway. The order was passed as the high court allowed a PIL by the Federation of Noida Residents’ Welfare Association.
The PIL, filed in 2012, had challenged the “levy and collection of toll in the name of user fee” by the NTBCL.