The High Court on Thursday adjourned by four weeks hearing on a petition challenging toll collection on Thrissur-Angamaly-Edappally stretch of NH-47.
The NHAI submitted that prior to inviting tenders, a detailed project report should be prepared and its Chapter IX, Volume-1, must contain analysis pertaining to the finance involved in the project, which clearly indicates on what basis the tenders are accepted. Hence, the Government Pleader sought time to secure the records from the office of NHAI in New Delhi.Considering the submissions, a Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice A M Shaffique adjourned the hearing to enable the NHAI produce the project report on the construction of the road.
The petitioner, Shakeel Mohammed, general secretary, Solidarity Youth Movement, Ernakulam district committee, submitted that the notification on toll collection was illegal and unsustainable in law.
Besides, the period of toll collection had not been mentioned in the notification. It could be assumed that toll would be collected in perpetuity, resulting in undue profit for the NHAI and the Guruvayur Infrastructure Private Limited, which undertook the expansion works of the highway, at the expense of the public.
The petitioners also submitted that the rates fixed were also exorbitant. The intention of the notification was to help the company, which was constructing the road, gain unlawful and undue benefits.
The collection of toll violated the right of the citizen to move freely throughout the territory of the country guaranteed under Article 16(1) (d) of the Constitution.The petitioner pointed out that the Centre was collecting cess on petrol as per the Central Road Fund Act. The Act was enacted with the objective of raising funds for development and maintenance of national highways.