Top Court Issues Notice To Firm On Plea Of Noida Authority Against Arbitral Proceedings
The Supreme Court issued a notice to private firm Noida Toll Bridge Company Ltd. on a plea filed by Noida Authority challenging the ongoing arbitral proceedings between them on collection of toll on the DND flyway connecting Delhi and Noida.
The Noida Authority has filed an interim application in a pending appeal filed by NTBCL, which was running the DND flyway, in the apex court against the Allahabad High Court's order.
The high court had asked NTBCL to stop collecting toll from commuters plying on the DND flyway.
The Noida Authority has said the apex court was seized of the NTBCL appeal and in the meanwhile, simultaneous arbitration proceedings were being conducted which should be stayed.
The apex court is hearing the appeal of NTBCL and the arbitration is also going on, senior advocate Ranjit Kumar, appearing for Noida Authority, said, adding that there cannot be simultaneous proceedings and moreover, "nothing is due on the Noida Authority".
"Issue notice. Reply to the interim application, if any, may be filed within a week. Rejoinder to the reply, if any, may be filed within next one week thereafter. List the matter after two weeks," a bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjiv Khanna said.
The apex court had refused to stay the high court's order and had also directed the Comptroller and Auditor General of India 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 the appeal of NTBCL challenging Allahabad High Court's order asking it to stop collecting toll from commuters plying on the DND flyway.
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 Delhi-Noida Direct 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 Noida Toll Bridge Company".
In an over 100-page judgment, the high court had held, "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."
It had said that the "right to levy and collect user fee from the commuters as conferred upon the Concessionaire under the concession agreement suffers from excessive delegation and is contrary to the provisions UP Industrial Development Act".
It had noted that "the Concessionaire, according to their own financial statements, has recovered Rs 810.18 crore (approx.) from toll income from the date of commencement of the project till March 31, 2014 and after deduction of operation and maintenance expenses and corporate income tax, the surplus was Rs 578.80 crore (computed before interest, depreciation, and lease rental received by the Concessionaire)".
"They have further realised user fee/toll two-and-a-half years thereafter between April 1, 2014 and Sept. 30, 2016 which, as per the collection of user fee in the year 2013-14 would work out to an additional sum of Rs 300 crore (approx).
"We are, therefore, more than satisfied that the concessionaire cannot now recover the user fees from the users/commuters of the Noida Toll Bridge the DND Flyover," the high court had said.