Friday, Sep 19, 2014

HC ex-judge to determine ‘exact Delhi-Lahore distance’

HOW MUCH LONGER? The Delhi-Lahore bus at the Wagah checkpost. ARCHIVE HOW MUCH LONGER? The Delhi-Lahore bus at the Wagah checkpost. ARCHIVE
Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi | Posted: March 23, 2014 2:48 am

What is the exact distance between Delhi and Lahore? This seems to be a question of such significance that a retired judge was on Saturday appointed umpire to determine the correct answer. 

Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) asked retired Delhi High Court judge Justice Rekha Sharma to be an arbitrator in the matter. As part of her assignment, Justice Sharma may now travel from Delhi to Lahore, or assign the task to someone else after defining the modalities.

DTC was constrained to appoint an arbitrator in view of an unresolved dispute it has with a private operator who runs a Volvo bus (DL1PC 3737) between the cities.

Libra Bus Service, the operator, had approached Delhi High Court to recover Rs 19 lakh from DTC, which it said was the difference between what accrued to it on account of the distance actually travelled and the money that DTC paid due to a faulty odometer instrument on the bus.

The Ludhiana-based operator has been running the bus in agreement with DTC since 2004. After the first five-year agreement expired, the contract was renewed in 2009.

While moving the court in 2012, the operator said that the one-way distance between Delhi and Lahore was 540 km, but the company was paid for only 491 km. This difference, the company claimed, was due to a faulty odometer on the bus.

DTC, on the other hand, produced a response from the Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation, which runs a similar bus service from the other side of the border. The Pakistani agency said that the distance from Lahore to Delhi was 514 km. Interestingly, all the buses ply on the same route. 

Subsequently, DTC asked the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to calculate the exact distance. The NHAI, after dividing the distance in two parts — Delhi-Wagah and Wagah-Lahore — gave the figure of 523 km.

Thus, four numbers were brought on record before the high court. Subsequently, counsel for DTC Sumeet Pushkarna told the court that the matter could be resolved through arbitration since such a clause was available in the agreement between the parties.

The High Court then asked DTC’s chairman-cum-managing director to appoint an arbitrator. On Saturday, the corporation appointed Justice Sharma. The retired judge also happens to be the arbitrator in a dispute between DTC and Tata Motors over the supply of low-floor CNG buses in the national capital.

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