The Bombay high court on Thursday temporarily stayed the proposal to hike metro fares on the Versova-Ghatkopar corridor.
A division bench of justice Abhay Oka and justice Gautam Patel temporarily restrained operator Mumbai Metro One Private Limited (MMOPL) from putting into effect its proposed fare hike. The bench posted petitions filed by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) and Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam — both of which challenge the fare fixation committee’s recommendations — for hearing on January 29.
MMRDA had filed a petition against the fare fixation committee’s recommendations that allowed a price band of Rs10 to Rs110.
The committee comprised of retired justice E Padmanabhan, former law secretary
TK Vishwanathan and former chief secretary Jayant Kumar Banthia. Banthia, however, had disagreed with the recommendations.
MMRDA’s counsel, senior advocate Aspi Chinoy, said that before the line was commissioned, MMRDA and the metro operator had agreed that the latter would have to bear losses for the first eight years and will start making profits only from the year after that.
Chinoy told the court the fare fixation committee allowed the metro operator to recompense the company in the first year of operation itself, that too when the passenger capacity had not been fully reached. Chinoy said the steep hike would change the characteristic of the project from a public utility to a limited usage one.
The bench issued its order, noting the fare fixation committee’s report will have to be tested on legal principles.
MMOPL announced the Rs5 fare hike from December 1, following the committee’s report.
Its proposed five slabs were Rs10, 20, 25, 35 and 45, instead of the current four of Rs10, 20, 30 and 40. The proposed hike, however, was withheld after MMRDA approached the high court.
In his petition, Nirupam alleged the central government was facilitating private profiteering by allowing multiple fare hikes, and demanded the hike should be allowed only once every four years, as envisaged in the agreement between MMRDA and MMOPL.