Mumbai Metro fare panel legally invalid after missing deadline

  • Saurabh Katkurwar, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: May 05, 2015 22:30 IST

The wait for a revision in Metro fares just got longer. The Centre-appointed fare fixation committee (FFC) will not be able to fix a new fare any time soon because it has lost its legal validity. Reason: It failed to fix a new fare before its deadline set by the Supreme Court ended.

The Supreme Court had directed the FFC to fix a new fare by April 30.

The apex court is expected to hear the matter on Wednesday. So the FFC committee members will have to wait till the court extends the deadline or takes a decision in the matter.

“As the deadline has expired, the committee members feel they do not have a standing on the matter. It could hold just one meeting so far and any meeting after April 30 may be considered as contempt of court. Now, it depends on what orders the court gives on Wednesday,” said a source close to the development.

Although all three committee members were appointed in October last year, the Centre did not form the panel till mid-March for unknown reasons. It acted only after the Apex court ordered it to fix the fare by April 30.

Subsequently, the Centre formed the committee, which has two members nominated by it — retired high court judge justice E Padmanabhan and former law secretary TK Vishwanathan. The third member, Jayant Kumar Banthia, is a former state chief secretary, nominated by the state government.

The FFC has held only one meeting so far, on April 17, in which it listened to the deliberations made by Mumbai Metro One Pvt Ltd (MMOPL) officials.

If the court extends the deadline further, the Centre will issue a notification facilitating the FFC to restart its proceedings.

Banthia said “We cannot hold any meeting because the deadline has expired. Once the central government issues a notification, we will resume our proceedings.”

The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), the nodal agency for the Mumbai Metro, had moved the Bombay high court on July 9 last year after the MMOPL fixed the new fare — Rs 10 to Rs 40 — using provisions of the Central Metro Act, against the previous fare notified by the state government — Rs 9 to 13 — calculated according to the clauses in the concession agreement.

In January this year, the Bombay high court upheld the MMOPL’s decision allowing it to charge higher fare — Rs 10 to Rs 40. The MMOPL charged a promotional fare — Rs 10 to Rs 20 — till January 08. On March 16, the Supreme Court allowed the MMOPL to charge a higher fare till April-end and directed the FFC to come up with a revised fare.

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