Has FASTag been implemented correctly, Bombay HC asks Centre
While asking the government on whether proper procedure was followed while implementing mandatory FASTag for all cars, the Bombay high court (HC) held that illiteracy could not be grounds for discontinuing the system as prayed for in a public interest litigation (PIL). The court also sought to know from the government whether cars not having FASTags would be deemed illegal, and asked the Centre to file an affidavit on the same and posted hearing to April 7.
A division bench of chief justice Dipankar Datta and justice Girish Kulkarni, while hearing a PIL filed by Arjun Khanapure challenging the decision of making FASTag compulsory, was informed by advocate Uday Warunjikar that not at all citizens were comfortable with the technology as many were illiterate and did not use the e-wallet system which is required to buy FASTag. Warunjikar added that the PIL also challenged the government’s rule of imposing fines on vehicles that did not have FASTags.
The PIL came to be filed after the Central government made it mandatory for all vehicles to have FASTag installed on the windscreen and also mandated double toll for vehicles that entered designated lanes without the same. Warunjikar submitted that the Union government did not have any power to impose such a fine.
The court then sought to know from the Union government on whether there had been any amendments to the Central Motor Vehicles Act or other existing laws to make all lanes FASTag ones and impose fine on those vehicles without it. The court also asked whether converting all highway lanes into FASTag lanes was provided for in the Act.
Additional solicitor general Anil Singh, for the Central government, informed the court that FASTag system was adopted to prevent traffic jams at toll plazas, and special booths had been set up at most toll plazas to help citizens get FASTag chips installed on their vehicles.
While agreeing to the argument that traffic jams at toll plazas was a pressing issue, the bench observed that India lagged far behind in implementing the system, citing example of Singapore which had it way back in 1984.
The bench then directed the government to file its affidavit within two weeks and said it would consider all contentions then.