Bombay HC asks authorities to reply to PIL against removal of cash lanes at toll plazas
The Bombay high court (HC) on Wednesday directed the Union Road Transport Ministry and National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) to respond to a public interest litigation (PIL) which has challenged a February 15 circular by the authorities wherein toll plazas were authorised to collect double toll fees as fine from vehicles not having FASTag. The responses are to be filed before the next hearing on March 10.
The PIL has alleged that the decision to replace cash lanes with FASTag lanes was taken arbitrarily, and added that as the decision left no scope for cash payment, it would create problems in the event of any technical problems faced by the commuters or toll plazas.
A division bench of chief justice Dipankar Datta and justice Girish Kulkarni, while hearing the PIL filed by Arjn Khanapure, was informed that the petitioner was a regular user of state and national highways and that He was forced to pay double toll charges on February 16 at Dumbarwadi Toll Plaza for a single journey as he did not have FASTag. The petitioner said that he was informed that the double charges were being collected as a fine for not having FASTag and a decision to that effect had been taken and announced by the authorities on February 12 and 14.
The petition further states that after the incident, the petitioner inquired and found that there was no provision in the Highways Act to collect double charges, and hence the decision by the authorities to allow toll plazas to collect double charges was arbitrary and illegal. The petition also states that the discontinuation of cash lanes, which were existing till February 15, was also detrimental as any technical problems such as connectivity issues, non-functional or faulty RFID readers, power failures would create problems for not only commuters but also toll plazas.
In light of the submissions and the fact that many people were not comfortable with the use of FASTag due to illiteracy, hesitance in using e-wallets and other logistical problems, the petition urged that the authorities should be directed to have the option of cash lane so that it could be used by such persons.