Giving Freebies May Result in Losses for Metro: SC to Delhi Govt

The Delhi government should refrain from giving freebies from “public money”, the SC said.

2 min read
File photo used for representational purposes

The Delhi government's ambitious proposal to make metro travel free for women came under sharp criticism of the Supreme Court on Friday which questioned it for giving "freebies" and "sops" saying it might lead the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) to losses.

The Delhi government should refrain from giving freebies from "public money", the apex court said and warned that it would stop them from doing so as courts are not "powerless".

“If you will allow people to travel for free, then the Delhi metro may go into loss. If you will give freebies, we will stop you. You are fighting for a cause here and you want them to incur loss. Do not give sops, it is public money,” a bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta told the lawyer appearing for Delhi government.

"Why you want to destroy the Delhi metro," the bench said, adding, "Can you give sops and say that Union of India should bear the cost".

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said in June that his government proposed to make metro and bus travel free for women in the national capital and the plan would be implemented within two-three months.

The move by Delhi government came ahead of the Assembly election scheduled early next year.

During the hearing, the top court said the Delhi government should not channelise its funds in this way.

“What you handle is public money and public trust,” the bench said, adding, “Do not think that courts are powerless”.

However, the counsel appearing for Delhi government said the proposal has not been implemented yet.

The apex court dealt with three issues related to Phase-IV of Delhi metro -- bearing of operational loss, repayment of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) loan in case of default and sharing of land cost -- which are yet to be resolved between the Centre and Delhi government.

The bench said that operational loss, if any, in the 103.94 km long Phase-IV of the Delhi Metro project would be borne by the Delhi government as it is a mode of conveyance in the national capital.

“The GNCTD (Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi) is bound to ensure that financial health of DMRC is maintained properly and no steps are taken so that it may run into loss,” the bench said.

Regarding sharing of land cost, the apex court accepted the submissions of Delhi government and directed that the land cost for the phase-IV project would be borne by the Centre and the Delhi government equally, in 50:50 ratio.

It asked the authorities concerned to ensure that no delay is caused in the Phase-IV metro project and the total land cost of Rs 2,447.19 crore is released forthwith.

The bench directed the Centre and Delhi government to work out the modalities and release the amount of land cost within three weeks from today.

The 103.94 km long phase-IV of Delhi metro will consist of six corridors -- Aerocity to Tughlakabad; Inderlok to Indraprastha; Lajpat Nagar to Saket G Block; Mukundpur to Maujpur; Janakpuri West to RK Ashram and Rithala to Bawana and Narela.

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