HC: For revising fare Railways do not need approval of Parliament

Written By Unknown on Selasa, 24 Juni 2014 | 22.23

MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Tuesday refused to stay the railway fare hike observing that it is a policy matter and hence there is no question of granting any interim relief.

The HC added, "It is not disputed that for revising rates railways do not need approval of parliament. The railways rely on a ruling of 1974 of speaker of the parliament which says no approval of parliament is required for a fare hike."

A bench of Justice Abhay Oka and A S Chandurkar while hearing a PIL filed by consumer group Mumbai Grahak Panchayat through its chairperson Shirish Deshpande to challenge the "exorbitant" hike said, "Suppose an interim relief is granted and the petition fails, who will pay the amount? Let us hear on July 3 when it is fixed for regular hearing."

Advocate Uday Warunjikar lawyer for MGP said he would argue it for interim relief. The court thus heard it.

In Ketan Tirodkar's PIL against the hike the court observed that there is no demand for a stay and said, "We will fix it for admission on July 3."

"The authority says will be effective from tomorrow.What is illegal about it?" asked the bench.

Warunjikar said, "If on July 3 the HC says the hike is not to be done what will happen to those passengers who have paid the revised fares?"

The judge said, "if it reduced those who have purchased can seek refund. Ticket holder can keep ticket and go for refunds." To this Warunjikar said, "there are 75 lakh commuters daily in Mumbai. If all start seeking refund it will create chaos." He asked, "What's the urgency to bring out the hike at a short notice, when the parliament will be in session soon?"

Justice Oka said, "Is it a case for grant of ad-interim reliefs You will have to point out to authorities that this is excessive."

Advocate Wrunjikar said, ''The revised rates are so shocking. It is a 186 percent hike and reflects adhoc behavior. The secretary in the ministry is taking the decision.'' To this the judges asked him if he was suggesting the central government did not take the decision?'' The lawyer was quiet. But then he said that there needs to be an expert committee before such hikes are decided.

Justice Oka asked the lawyer to point out which provision in the law required consultation committee to be set up first for rail fare hikes. The judge added, '"In an interim plea, we cannot appoint an expert committee.'' The advocate for the railways, Suresh Kumar then pointed out that there was a decision in the 1970s by the Speaker which made it clear that no approval of the Parliament was required for railways to revise the fare.

The HC also said to MGP that when it comes to the court of law, it must show the illegality if it is seeking relief.

In its order which it dictated in open court, Justice Oka who dictated it said, "The challenge in the PIL is to the notification issued on June 21 on fare hike to be effective from June 25.''

The judge said, "The MGP advocate does not dispute there is power under railways act to fix dare hike by general or special order. His objection is to the exorbitant hike o over 180 percent. The budget session is around the corner and fixation of fare hike date is arbitrary. And he prays for stay in season fares for Mumbai suburban commuters''

The judge said, "Railways Act of 1989 allows fare hike. There is a power also to fix the revised date. The MGP counsel says he is unable to point out any illegality as regards to fixation of date and given the magnitude of the hike such a short date need bit have been fixed.''

The HC observed that the Implementation of revised rate was withdrawn by previous government due to the election. "Given that impugned decision is in nature of policy decision, no ad interim relief can be granted. Hence refused. It is kept on July for regular hearing on July 3.''

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/followceleb.cms?alias=Abhay Oka,UN Court,Uday Warunjikar,advocate,Suresh Kumar

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